SEPTEMBER 4. Ord Time B. Wk 22. Sat. Lk 6 1-5
One sabbath Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them. Some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath day?’ Jesus answered them, ‘So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry how he went into the house of God, took the loaves of offering and ate them and gave them to his followers, loaves which only the priests are allowed to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’
A common failing of God’s people is our focus on the following of community expectations and our inclination to be critical of others when our expectations are not met, which is exactly what the Pharisees were doing in today’s gospel.
Christ is giving us a valuable teaching today however when he points out this practice can often result in a wrong interpretation of the individual’s actions. The Pharisee’s condemnation came about because their rules were not being followed, resulting in a very simple judgement; - and condemnation!
But fortunately this is not the way divine judgment takes place, as God has the ability to see, and focus on, the sentiments of the heart and mind; - something the Pharisees were not interested in; - firstly because they were only looking at external behaviour, and secondly, because they were unable to know the interior dispositions of the disciples.
The fact is most of God’s people; - if not all; - would have no hope of attaining eternal life if we had to be judged by the black and white standards of the Pharisees; - and the views held by many in our modern world; - as they do not acknowledge the simple truth that all of us are sinners!
The flaw in the Pharisees attitude towards others is it is built on the false supposition that they were already holy in God’s eyes, and they were without fault; - an attitude Christ condemned on multiple occasions, calling them “hypocrites” and “whitewashed tombs” for their self-proclaimed sanctity.
Another major failing in the thinking of the Pharisees is they saw no need for sorrow for sin which is an essential ingredient in the life of someone who professes to be a friend of God, as without contrition and sorrow for sin there can be no access to divine mercy; - something essential for holiness.
The disciples in today’s reading were in the very fortunate situation of knowing the mind of Christ, as they had spent long hours in his company listening to his teachings and, in contrast to the Pharisees; - their focus was on the sentiments of their hearts and minds.
This leads to a more mature spiritual life and is markedly different to the immaturity of the Pharisees who were focused solely on external obedience to a set of rules!
The teachings of today’s gospel are better understood if we add a couple of words to Christ’s final statement; - “The Son of Man is master of the sabbath; - not the Pharisees!” with the meaning being; - “The Son of Man is master of the world; - not the Politicians,” a message that continues to be relevant today where, in many respects, our leaders emulate the Pharisees?
Gospel Acclamation Jn14:16
I am the way, the truth, and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
First reading Colossians 1:21-23 ·
God has reconciled you by Christ's death in his mortal body
Not long ago, you were foreigners and enemies, in the way that you used to think and the evil things that you did; but now he has reconciled you, by his death and in that mortal body. Now you are able to appear before him holy, pure and blameless – as long as you persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the faith, never letting yourselves drift away from the hope promised by the Good News, which you have heard, which has been preached to the whole human race, and of which I, Paul, have become the servant.
"As long as you persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the Faith!"