Celebrate the Sabbath


Mark 2:23-28
1 Sm 16: 1-13 / Ps 89

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.
(Mark 2:27-28)

The Sabbath’s more than day of rest,
It’s also meant for our delight;
God therefore set aside the best
To worship Him with all our might.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through a grainfield, and as His disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel account of Mark again brings to focus the conflict between our Lord’s concern for human needs and the Jewish officials’ strict observance of their religious rituals. It was about these religious officials in Jesus’ time that Isaiah wrote, “Yes, you fast but end up quarreling, striking each other with wicked blows. Fasting as you do will not make your voice heard on high.” (Isa.58:4) They were too blind to realize that if Jesus could exercise authority over demons, illness, and sin, then He certainly had authority over the Sabbath law.

God instituted the Sabbath not as a yoke to burden man, but to compel him to take a rest for his physical, spiritual and emotional renewal. The Sabbath was intended to benefit man’s personal well being, and at the same time remove him for a day from his labors so that he could contribute to other endeavors beneficial to others.

The observance of the Sabbath by the Jews was done out of obligation, but Jesus came to change that old tradition by teaching His followers that the Sabbath must be observed out of love and devotion. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore, whoever is in Christ is a new creation: The old things have passed away, behold, the new things have come!” (2Cor.5:17).

Many of Christ’s leaders today spend their day of rest (after hearing mass) by reaching out to the less fortunate, like the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. God never wearies in all His work, and did not really rest on the seventh day. He merely paused to admire the beauty of His creation. In the same way, He wants us to set aside a day when we can thank Him fully for all our blessings by expressing our love to others. It is also the day when we can reflect on His Word, and be fully reinvigorated by His Holy Spirit in a quiet time and place with prayer and worship.

Help us, dear God to devote one day of the week to contemplate on Your Word, and to bring others to You through prayers and good works. Amen.

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