How to Keep 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 makes the Sabbath relevant
Is God’s grace that will make us stay
Faithful to all His covenant,
Like honoring Him on Sunday.

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)


The scribes and Pharisees were actually the ones violating the Sabbath by plotting to kill Jesus (“to do evil”). On the other hand, Jesus was in fact honoring the Sabbath by doing good — saving the life of the crippled man by restoring his hand. Jesus was simply asking the Jews, ‘What is more important, to be legal or to be loving?’

The Jews strictly observed the 4th commandment: “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… 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 all 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).

God instituted the Sabbath law to emphasize that the seventh day is for Him alone, by which we honor Him, unlike the other six days of the week wherein we devote our time for temporal concerns like building our career, or working to make money. We honor Him best by doing good, as Jesus did, healing on a Sabbath. Acts of charity are one way of keeping the Sabbath (or Sunday) holy. More importantly, the other way is by spending that day in mission work –- such as conducting a Christian Life Program in our chapter’s new outreach in Mati City, Davao Oriental. This our mission team will be starting this coming Saturday, September 14, and for the next eight weeks. As the celebrant in yesterday’s mass said in his homily, there are two kinds of Christians: the fans of Jesus, and His followers. His fans love God for His goodness and divine providence, but His true followers commit their time, effort and resources, and take up their crosses to bring His Good News of salvation to others. As St. Paul said (in our 1st reading),”…that their hearts may be encouraged, as they are brought together in love… for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-3). This is how we honor God.

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. Amen.

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