9th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 II:
23 One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their
way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
24 And the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not
lawful on the sabbath?"
25 And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in
need and was hungry, he and those who were with him:
26 how he entered the house of God, when Abi'athar was high priest, and ate
the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to
eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?"
27 And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the
28 so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath."
3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered
2 And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so
that they might accuse him.
3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here."
4 And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do
harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent.
5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of
heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out,
and his hand was restored.
6 The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Hero'di-ans
against him, how to destroy him.
Today's reading comprises of two related events regarding keeping the
religious observation of the Sabbath.
- (vv.23-24) The dispute over Sabbath observance is due to different
interpretation of what is required to keep the Sabbath. Since the Law
(Torah) does not specify how to keep the Sabbath, different teachers
disagree on the details. If picking off the heads of grain is considered
harvesting (= working) then the disciples violate the Law (cf. Ex 34:21).
- (vv.25-26) Again, Jesus defended his disciples' action by giving a
counter-example: David violated the sanctuary and priestly privilege to feed
his men (1 Sam 21:1-6). If David could commit such a sacrilege on behalf on
his followers (which was a more serious offense than what the disciples
did), then no one could accuse Jesus' disciples of being law breakers.
- (vv.27-28) The point here is not that human beings can determine what
they should do with regard to the Sabbath. Rather, it states Jesus'
authoritative interpretation of God's intention in giving the Law - the Son
of Man here refers to Jesus. The Law was given to benefit the people, not to
- (vv.1-5) The healing, which also takes place on the Sabbath, illustrates
that Jesus does not intend to abolish Sabbath observance as such. Rather, he
was against depersonalized legalism. By healing the man, Jesus brings the
principle of "doing good" into concrete action. Love shows itself in deeds
more than in words.
- (v.6) Truth upsets people.
One Main Point
God's redemptive work knows no constraints, not even the Sabbath law.
- What is my attitude regarding Sunday's observance?
- How do I show my love and concern for others? Do I take concrete action,
or do I merely talk about what I should do?
- Am I willing to be "corrected" by the truth? Or do I let pride blind me?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community