The Holy Gospel according to Matthew (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 priests 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.”
Reflection: The fourth commandment states that we are to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. During the time of Jesus, the rabbis classified 39 kinds of work that were not allowed on the Sabbath. Among those “works” were reaping and harvesting. In a strict sense of the word, the disciples were violating the Sabbath by picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees were quick to point this out to Jesus. But the disciples did not violate the Sabbath. They picked the grain because they were hungry and wanted something to eat. We know that Jesus himself did many good works on the Sabbath by curing the sick and feeding the hungry. What does this passage mean to us today? For us Catholic Christians, our “Sabbath” is Sunday. We should attend mass on Sunday. Then we live our lives, spending time with our families, cooking out meals, taking care of our children and other activities. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2185) gives us a basis for how we are to observe the obligation of Sunday rest: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.” Some people are required to work on Sunday, such as first responders, medical and service personnel, and others. I had to work many Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation during my career as a police officer. So, what is it we should do on Sunday, after attending mass? We should rest and spend some time in prayer, reflection, and meditation to help our relationship with Our Lord and each other. It is also a good time to practice the corporal works of mercy.
Action for the Day: May we make Sunday the most important day of the week by rededicating Sundays, our Sabbath, as a day of worship of God, rest, prayer, and reflection to help our relationship with Our Lord and each other grow.