How to Make the Sabbath Holy

Matthew 12: 1-8
Exo 11:10—12:14 / Psa 116

I tell you, someone greater than the temple is here.
(Matthew 12:6)

Why should Sunday be a yoke to bear
When it’s a day of celebration?
A time to praise and our joy to share
For the blessings of God’s creation.

At that time, Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and eat them. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, someone greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8)


In their obsession to follow the law of the Sabbath, the Pharisees had failed to honor the One Who had made that law and handed it down to Moses. Worse, they even added numerous interpretations of the Sabbath law, making it more difficult for the people to follow. Jesus, however, made things easier for His followers. He told them earlier, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Mt.11:28-30) His law was one of mercy and love, and not the sacrifice of following stringent, but largely ceremonial and external laws.

The Church transferred the “Sabbath” to Sunday because our Lord was risen on this day, and so this is the day that we sanctify and celebrate. In keeping with what our Lord Jesus wants, since this is the Lord’s day of rest, this is the day when we should be most joyful, setting aside all our temporal concerns, and giving praise and thanks to Him with our family, first by going to mass to worship Him with other Christians, and then, doing what pleases our God and Father. Jesus said God desires mercy, so this coming Sunday, our community will be conducting a medical “mission of mercy” for the flood victims in Barangay Matina Pangi. We are heartened by the generosity of many people supporting this endeavor, with special mention to the members of the Iloilo chapter of our organization, which sent a considerable amount of money. May the Lord reward them all for making His Sabbath a blessed and joyful one!

External rites of devotion do not a holy person make, nor do they guarantee passage to God’s kingdom. It is the purity of our intentions, motivated by the love of God and fellowmen that draws us and endears us to the Father. Jesus said, “I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:20). Sunday is our day of rest when we honor our God, Who in the book of Genesis, rested on the seventh day to make it holy. It is the day when we unload all our concerns and simply reflect on God’s goodness in our life. It is a short respite when we can celebrate the freedom and salvation that Jesus had won for us. St. Paul said, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1).

May we honor Your Sabbath, Lord, by adoring You accordingly, practicing acts of kindness and compassion on this special day. Amen.

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