Tuesday, January 17, 2017
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Mark 2:27
This statement spoken by Jesus was said in response to some of the Pharisees who were criticizing Jesus’ disciples for picking heads of grain on the Sabbath as they walked by the fields. They were hungry and did what was natural to them. However, the Pharisees used it as an opportunity to be irrational and critical. They made the claim that by picking the heads of grain, the disciples were breaking the Sabbath law.
First of all, from the point of basic common sense, this is silly. Would our loving and all-merciful God really be offended because the disciples picked heads of grain to eat as they walked by the field? Perhaps a scrupulous mind may think so, but every bit of natural common sense should tell us God is not offended by such an action.
Jesus’ final statement about this sets the record straight. “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” In other words, the whole point of the Sabbath Day was not to impose a scrupulous burden upon us; rather, it was to free us to rest and worship. The Sabbath is a gift from God to us.
This takes on practical implications when we look at the way we celebrate the Sabbath today. Sunday is the new Sabbath and it’s a day of rest and worship. Sometimes we can look at these requirements as burdens. They are not given to us as an invitation to follow the commands in a scrupulous and legalistic way. They are given to us as an invitation to the life of grace.
Does this mean that we do not need to always attend Mass and rest on Sundays? Certainly not. These precepts of the Church are clearly the will of God. The real question has to do with the way we look at these commands. Rather than falling into the trap of seeing them as legalistic requirements, we must strive to live these commands as invitations to grace, given to us for our own well-being. The commands are for us. They are required because we need the Sabbath. We need Sunday Mass and we need a day to rest each week.
Reflect, today, upon the way you celebrate the Lord’s Day. Do you see the call to worship and rest as an invitation from God to be renewed and refreshed by His grace? Or do you see it only as a duty that has to be fulfilled. Try to take on the right attitude, this day, and the Lord’s Day will take on a whole new meaning for you.
Lord, I thank You for establishing the New Sabbath as a day to rest and worship You. Help me to live every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation in the way You desire. Help me to see these days as a gift from You to worship and to be renewed. Jesus, I trust in You.
See also: Daily Reflection on Divine Mercy