REFLECTION FOR TODAY
September 4, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” Lk. 6:5
The Pharisees were never tired of challenging Jesus and his disciples on their scrupulous approach to observing the laws of God. Today’s short gospel reference form part of Jesus’s defending his disciples against eating grains on a Sabbath. The Pharisees had accused the disciples of Jesus for breaking the law of Sabbath. In defending them, Jesus pointed out that their action was within the boundaries of the law. Jesus could see how the Pharisees sought to exercise control over God, by establishing strict regulations and guideline that often surpassed the requirements of the law.
The Third Commandment from which the Pharisees based their accusation states: “Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.” From this Commandment, the Pharisees had developed a complex commentary which went into detail about what kind of work was forbidden on the Sabbath in their view. One such regulation was to pick and mill grain. Thus, they judged that this was what the disciples were doing and were, therefore, violating the Third Commandment. Their interpretation focuses on what should not be done on the Sabbath, but Jesus wants to identify the heart of the law and He invites his people to experience the freedom of God’s laws. The law of the sabbath was given out of love, to give people the freedom.
The laws of God, as they are given by God, must be followed perfectly. His divine Law refreshes us, enlivens us, and enables us to live in union with Him. The Pharisees, however, deeply struggled with a need to control the lives of the people through their human interpretation of the divine Law. By saying that “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath,” Jesus made it clear that this scrupulous interpretation of the Third Commandment taught by the Pharisees did not align with the truths of that divine Law.
One lesson to learn from this encounter is that each one of us can easily fall into a similar trap. It’s easy to replace God’s true Law with our perception of faith and morality. We are weak human beings, and there are many things that affect our thinking and our convictions in life. Emotions, habits, family relationships, friendships, media and so many other things affect us in powerful ways. Sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. We can easily arrive at certain judgments of faith and morality that are slightly erroneous, being based on subtle errors. As a result, we can easily begin to get off track in our thinking and convictions and, over time, can find that we have deviated far from the truths of God. When this happens, it can be difficult to humbly admit it and change our convictions.
Reflect, today, upon the humble truth that Jesus and Jesus alone is Lord of the divine Law. This means that we must perpetually remain open to changing our opinions when we hear our Lord speak to us. Ponder any way in which you have become overly attached to your own opinions. If they bring forth peace, joy, charity, and the like, then they are most likely in union with God. If they are burdensome, a cause of confusion, contention, or frustration, then you may need to step back and humbly reexamine the convictions you hold, so that He Who is Lord of all will be able to speak His divine Law to you more clearly.
Lord of all Truth, You and You alone are the guide of my life. You and You alone are the Truth. Help me to be humble, dear Lord, so that I can recognize any error in my convictions and turn to You and Your divine Law as the one and only guide for my life. Jesus, I trust in You.