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Picking grain on the Sabbath

Gospel Reading: Mt 12:1-8
Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, 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 and his companions were hungry, how he went into 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 that on the sabbath the priest serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

The son of man is Lord of the Sabbath. This statement serves as a conclusion of Jesus in his argument with the Pharisees on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees protest when they see Jesus’ disciples appearing to violate the Sabbath. The evangelist himself explains that they are hungry, and as a Latin saying puts it, “Necessitas non habet legem” (Necessity has no law).

Jesus defends his disciples. His explanation for “violating” must shock the Pharisees even more. No one is supposed to be called Son of Man except the one referred to in Daniel. Jesus claims to be the Son of Man and thus the Lord of the Sabbath. He is the rightful person to mediate the Sabbath. When Jesus allows the disciples to do what seems forbidden, no one can question him because he is the Lord of the Sabbath.

The Pharisees have long claimed that they are the guardians of their religion and protectors of the Law. However, Jesus sees himself as beyond the Law and its rightful interpreter, because he comes from God and knows the mind of God who gave the Law on Mount Sinai.

Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. How do you spend the day of rest? Is Jesus the Lord of your Sunday?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.