7 Sept. 2013. Saturday of the 22nd Week
Col 1:21ff. We must hold fast to the faith, strong in hope, to appear before God as holy, and free of all blame.
Lk 6:1ff. Jesus defends his disciples for eating grain on the Sabbath. “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
First Reading: Colossians 1:21-23
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him – provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
Gospel: Luke 6:1-5
One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
Keeping the Sabbath
The sabbath shalom, the deep sharing in eternal peace which Jesus offers is not easily attained. In today’s readings, we sense the traverse needed to reach such peace: from “hostility to “reconciliation”; from “evil deeds” to being “holy, free of reproach”; from pride, pretense and affluence to humility, honesty and sharing one’s goods; from theological sophistication to simple common sense. Yet the word of God can level mountains and and make straight the way of the Lord (Isa 40:3-5).
When questioned about the actions of his hungry disciples on the sabbath, Jesus replied with simple common sense. They were plucking ears of grain, and eating them, an action normally permitted as one walked through a field of standing corn. He bolsters his defense of them by appealing to another time when David and his men were allowed eat what normally was reserved for priests. Proper observance of the Law allowed for serving the poor and the needy.
Jesus is “Lord of the sabbath” in a deeper sense. Colossians speaks of his winning reconciliation for us by dying in his mortal body. If it is to be real, peace is no cheap grace; it is not “easy come, easy go”. Jesus died to obtain it for us. Someone must patiently suffer the effects of hostility and envy, so that others can see the evil of their deeds and be truly sorry for them. In Jesus, humble and patient on the cross, we find ourselves drawn to repudiate sin (2 Cor 5:21) so that he can present us to God “holy, free of reproach and blame.”