Lent Week 1—Saturday
Psalm 55 Genesis 41:1-131 Corinthians 4:1-7 Mark 2:23-3:6
In today’s gospel, Jesus has two encounters with the Pharisees. The Pharisees would have known the story in Exodus 16 when God sent Manna and quail to feed the Israelites in the wilderness but commanded them to gather food for two days on the sixth day because the seventh day was a solemn day of rest (the Sabbath). When the Pharisees saw the disciples picking the grain on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were certain the disciples were breaking the law of the Sabbath that was established in Exodus 16 and reiterated in the Ten Commandments. According to the Pharisees, the disciples should have gathered their food the day before.
The second encounter occurred in the synagogue. This would have been the building where the people were taught the rules regarding the Sabbath being a day of solemn rest. In the very building dedicated to instructing the people to do no work on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus was flaunting his disregard of the rule in the very place dedicated to maintaining the rule. What was Jesus doing? I believe, he was establishing his kingdom. Jesus was demonstrating that in the Kingdom of God, people are more valuable than systems of governance. Governments, religions, creeds and political affiliations can become idols if we value them over our relationship with God and others.
Jesus said The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. He was asserting that being in relationship with Christ is the fulfilment of the Sabbath law. The greatest commandment is not to defend orthodoxy in religion or government. It is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.