Keeping the Sabbath Holy

Luke 6: 6-11
Col 1: 24—2:3 / Psa 62

“I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
(Luke 6:9)

What we want’s not as important
As God’s grace that will make us stay
As faithful to His covenant,
And to praise Him on Sabbath day.

On another Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:6-11)

Reflection

Jesus’ question was meant to point out to the Pharisees and scribes that they were the ones who were desecrating the Sabbath by plotting to destroy Him. On the other hand, Jesus was in fact honoring the Sabbath by doing good and saving the life of the crippled man. Put in another way, He may well be asking, ‘What is more important, to be legal or to be loving?’

The Jews strictly observed the fourth commandment to the letter: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11) Jesus was not violating the fourth commandment by healing the sick or feeding the hungry because He never considered these as “work”. These were acts of love that were glorifying God. Besides, the law of love transcends all the laws on earth, including the law of the Sabbath. In fact, when one of the scribes asked Jesus on another occasion what the greatest commandment was, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend (or are based) on these two commandments” (Mt. 22:37-40).

The scribes and Pharisees who were filled with hatred were the ones violating the spirit of the Sabbath because they were not keeping it holy. Acts of charity are the best way to keep the Sabbath, or Sunday, a holy day of obligation. God intended the Sabbath law to emphasize the seventh day as His day alone, by which we honor Him, unlike the other six days of the week wherein we devote our time for temporal concerns like making a living, or working to make money. We honor Him best by being God-like, as Jesus was by healing on a Sabbath.

How did you spend your time yesterday? My wife and I spent the weekend enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, in the loving company of our siblings in our brother-in-law’s new resort on Talicud Island, in the Garden city of Samal. Upon getting home, we praised and thanked God for giving us a great time when we went to the noon mass at St. Paul’s church.

Father God, help us realize the importance of keeping Your day holy and apart from all the other days of the week; that it is the time to honor You most by spreading Your love and joy to others, especially to those who need it most. Thank You for all the blessings of this day.

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