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Luke 6:1-5

The Word of God

One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?" Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?" Then he said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath."

Luke 6:1-5
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Jesus’ reference to himself as the Son of Man is regarded as one of the most difficult areas of New Testament research. Do not be surprised if you have difficulty understanding it! In this passage the Pharisees are over exaggerating what the disciples are doing. By concentrating on what they considered the imperfections of his disciples they were suggesting that Jesus was not as important as he was.They were becoming increasingly envious of his growing popularity among the ordinary people. We should pray to be delivered from envy. Envy comes from too little love. We are envious of the success of those we do not like.
    • During his public life Jesus kept people guessing about his complete identity. If he had done so in the early days of his public ministry his opponents would have had him crucified much sooner. It was only when his death was inevitable that he proclaimed before Caiphas, the High Priest, that all humanity would “see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven”. __________________________________________________________________________
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    • This passage marks the continuing debate about sabbath observance. Initially it seemed that the issue was about working on a sabbath, even in a good cause, but it soon became a much deeper issue. It became a question about the identity of Jesus. Jesus did not simply justify his actions on common sense humanitarian grounds but claimed to be ‘Lord of the sabbath’; this moved the dispute to a higher and dangerous level; the Pharisees ‘discussed what they might do to Jesus’ (Lk. 6:11).
    • Read today’s and Monday’s Gospels (Lk. 6:1-11). Observe the scene, the characters, listen and watch. With whom do you identify? Are there reasons, good or bad for the reaction of the pharisees to Jesus? First and foremost, observe Jesus; how does he look? how does he view the pharisees? How do they view him?
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    • A simple natural action loses its innocence before judgemental scrutiny. Jesus takes a longer view, placing the snacking disciples in the context of their history, inviting the Pharisees to recognise the even longer timeline of God’s plan. I pray for the wisdom to know how to place my priorities in the context of God’s patient love.
    • Jesus invites the Pharisees to recognise that there is more than meets the eye. If I find myself like the Pharisees in judging, I pray that I may be like them too in asking what Jesus thinks.
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    • God's law is the law of freedom, for our lawgiver describes himself as merciful and compassionate. If we insist on the observance of the letter of the law rather than its spirit we may easily end up far from God rather than close to his will. This same discussion is going on in today's Church, and I pray that it be enlightened by the spirit of Jesus.
    • 'The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath!' No wonder the Jews found Jesus difficult, they rightly understood he was claiming to be God himself. We sometimes reduce Jesus to his message of universal love and forgiveness, and are not ready to accept his claim that he is also our Lord and God.
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    • The Pharisees are always depicted in the darkest colours in the New Testament. Do you think that they were motivated by hatred and if so how should the followers of Jesus have reacted in the light of his saying about ‘our enemies’?
    • They were the enemies of the early Church but were largely responsible for holding the Jewish Community together after the destruction of Jerusalem, so what should out attitude towards them be?
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    • It was God who told the Hebrews to observe the Sabbath, so when Jesus says that he is Lord of the Sabbath he is identifying with God. This claim enraged the Pharisees and ultimately led to his death.
    • The real God is not obsessed with rules and regulations, so I must not get fixated on them either. Every time is a good time to do good, and laws are good only when they are in the service of love. God’s central concern is the well-being and happiness of humankind: let these be my central concern likewise. Pope Francis urges us not to be afraid of making mistakes in our efforts to do good.
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    • Looking outwards, the Pharisees noticed the shortcomings of others; looking inwards, they congratulated themselves on their good performance. Jesus invites them to look to God and to seek not just the letter of the law, but to search out what lies in the heart of God. God is the real key for our well-being: God does not give up when our performance disappoints.
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    • Sunday. Blessed Sunday. Is it a day of rest for me? Sunday can be a gift, a privileged moment to find inner calm. It is a time to shed the stress of work and let cares fall away. It is a time to walk leisurely with my God in his world of nature. It is a time to recapture reverence for the holy world gifted to us. It is a time for speaking the names of each member of the family with love and gratitude.
    • Is Sunday my day for meeting the Lord of the Sabbath? Is it the day of Resurrection, when I celebrate the joy that the Lord Jesus is with me, forever?
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    • It starts as a relaxed rural scene: Jesus and the twelve wandering by a field of ripe wheat, and almost absent-mindedly plucking some ears, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. It turns into a solemn assertion. When Jesus claims to be lord of the Sabbath, he does not mean that he is just an arbiter in legal disputes over precisely what is allowed on the Sabbath. Rather he claims to have dominion over the third commandment, and over the Law itself.
    • The link of faith and human needs is strong in this incident. Religion and humanity are intrinsically linked. Hunger for ordinary food is taken seriously by Jesus, so that religious laws may be set aside. This incident can bring to mind the reality of starvation for many millions in our world. Can we ensure that the bread of ordinary life is more equally shared among the loved ones of God?
    • While Jesus valued rituals, he did not see them as the source and summit of religion. Ritual is empty if it is not sourced in relationship. Ritual is alive and relevant when begun in personal and communal prayer. What we gather from God in the time of prayer brings life, joy and relevance to the rituals and the customs of religion. No ritual, not even the Sabbath of the people of Jesus’ time, is to lord it over us.
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    • The Pharisees sought to preserve structures and strictures but they had lost sight of ordinary human needs. Jesus called them back to a better sense of what is important. Jesus hears what distracts me and calls me to truth.
    • The accusing party is not always others or authority; sometimes we don’t allow ourselves away with anything, but spend time chiding, scolding and not letting go. I ask Jesus’ help to be able to listen to what is really important.