In today’s gospel reading, Mark presents us with one of several instances in the Gospels in which Jesus and the Pharisees are in disagreement about how the law of keeping the Sabbath ought to be interpreted and followed.
It is clear that the greatest law of Judaism is that one is to love the Lord with all one’s heart and with all one’s soul and with all one’s mind. The second is like it: you are to love your neighbor as yourself. Love of God and neighbor is the framework around which everything else must be decided, including how one keeps holy the Sabbath.
Religions, and most institutions, always have the rigorists and the legalists who find it very important to lay out in great detail how one should follow a particular law or policy. They get lost in details, and the details sometimes become a more significant issue than the original intent of the law or policy.
In today’s reading, the Pharisees are watching to see whether Jesus would cure the man with the withered arm, which, they would argue, violates the law of doing no work on the Sabbath. Jesus asks them if on the Sabbath it is permitted to do good or evil, to save life or to kill. They gave him no response. One of the few times in the gospels we are told that Jesus “looked angrily at them and grieved to see them obstinate.”
Perhaps we should not be too hard on the Pharisees. We know that the central law of Christianity is love, love for God, and neighbor. Don’t we, too, sometimes get lost in the details and miss the central point? Think about it.
What about “illegal” immigrants, “lazy” poor people who prefer handouts to work, “irresponsible” young unwed mothers? Think about it.
Let Us Pray:
Jesus, you became one of us in your incarnation. You joined yourself to us, to all of us, saints and sinners alike, we are one in you. Give us your grace to see you in everyone we meet and to treat each of them with the same respect that we show to you. Amen.
Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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