Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.

There was a man there who had a withered hand.

The Pharisees watched Jesus closely

to see if he would cure him on the sabbath

so that they might accuse him.

He said to the man with the withered hand,

“Come up here before us.”

Then he said to the Pharisees,

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,

to save life rather than to destroy it?”

But they remained silent.

Looking around at them with anger

and grieved at their hardness of heart,

Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel

with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

         Sometimes we see pictures of Jesus and he looks weak. He doesn’t look like a man whom we would want to follow. In theses verses from the Gospel of Mark today, we are reminded that Jesus is not some willowy, weak man.  In fact, when Jesus begins his public ministry he is about 30 years old, and he is a carpenter. Jesus was a strong man. In this Gospel, we encounter  a man with strong feelings. Mark writes that he looks at the Pharisees “with anger,” and that “he is grieved at their hardness of heart.”

       It is important to note that anger is not always sinful. Although we list anger among the seven deadly sins, feelings, or passions such as anger, are not sins. Our passions, or feelings, should help move us to do what is right and good. The sin is allowing our emotions, not our reason to rule us.Indeed there is a form of just anger. Anger over the Pharisees shallow adherence to the law is understandable and justified.

       Jesus is angry because while these Pharisees outwardly follow the prescriptions of the law, inwardly they have hardened their hearts. Jesus knows that they watch him closely, not to share in his goodness, but to “catch” him in a violation of the law. Despite their judgments, Jesus is moved to “do good on the Sabbath,” and to cure the suffering man. In the new testament we learn that the purpose of the law and the true fulfillment of the law is love. 

I have heard that you are not keeping busy…

Gospel of Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him,“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them,“Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them,“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

The Pharisees were the Jewish scholars. They studied law that had been passed on from generation to generation of Jewish people since the time of Moses. All good Jews knew that God had set aside the Sabbath as a holy day. Recall the second Commandment: Remember, keep holy the Lord’s day. For the Jews, to keep the day holy was to avoid all unnecessary work so that the day might be totally ordered toward worshipping God. To pick grain on the Sabbath was considered a violation of the Jewish Law.

The Pharisees are outraged that Jesus’s disciples would be picking grain and , in their understanding, “doing what is unlawful on the sabbath.” Does it seem odd that the Pharisees would be present as Jesus and his disciples are “passing through a grain field on the sabbath”? Jesus is not sitting in the Temple preaching when they challenge him. He is not publicly speaking to crowds. He is walking through a field on his way to his next destination.

Why are the Pharisees there? We do not know for sure. But perhaps, they are following Jesus, waiting to catch him making a mistake or doing something wrong.

In a letter to an early Christian community, St. Paul writes, “I have heard that you are not keeping busy, but are being busy bodies…” There is a great temptation to insert ourselves in the affairs of others so as to be their judges. We would be much closer to the Heart of Christ, if we would stay focused on the tasks that God sets before us rather than interfering with the paths of others.

The whole town was gathered at the door.

Gospel Mark 1:32-39

When it was evening, after sunset,

they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.

The whole town was gathered at the door.

He cured many who were sick with various diseases,

and he drove out many demons,

not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,

he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Simon and those who were with him pursued him

and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages

that I may preach there also.

For this purpose have I come.”

So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons

throughout the whole of Galilee.

This Gospel story occurs at the beginning of Jesus’s public career. In the verses prior to these, Jesus calls his first apostles: Peter and Andrew his brother, as well as James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They first come to the house of Peter and Jesus cures Peter’s mother in law. Then soon after, Mark tells us, “The whole town was gathered at his door.” In order to find some quiet and alone time for prayer, Jesus rises early, before the dawn and slips off to a “deserted place.” Despite his need to be alone with His Father and the Holy Spirit, Simon and the others pursue him and say, “Everyone is looking for you.”

Mothers of young children may often feel as though “the entire town” is gathered at the door. Young children always want access to their moms. It doesn’t matter if one has ten kids or two kids or even one child, moms struggle to find quiet times and places. And if moms do not find the space and time to meet God in prayer, they will be tired, overwhelmed and frustrated.

God wants mothers to be happy and peaceful. He does not call women to this esteemed vocation so that they can become frazzled, stressed and frustrated.

If we feel this way, we must remember that Jesus knows what it is to be followed around, to have constant demands made of him, to be nagged. We mothers must come to Jesus and place our harried lives in his hands and ask for his help.

Prayer

Beloved Jesus, everyone wanted you to be with them, to solve their problems, to keep them company, to acknowledge their work. Jesus, you found time to be alone in prayer. Show me how to find that time without neglecting my responsibilities or exhausting myself. 

He taught as one having authority.

Gospel from Mark 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,

and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.

The people were astonished at his teaching,

for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;

he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

Have you come to destroy us?

I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”

The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.

All were amazed and asked one another,

“What is this?

A new teaching with authority.

He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”

His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

The evangelist Mark writes that Jesus taught with authority.

What is the root word of authority?

Author.

An author is one who creates, it is a source and it is also one who writes, as in a book or a poem. 

Jesus teaches with authority because He is God. He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We proclaim in the creed:

I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.

You could spend the rest of this day thinking and meditating on those words.

The Holy Trinity has always existed and always will exist. The Trinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit- three persons, one God. Jesus Christ, is the Second Person of the Trinity- the Son. “For us men, and for our salvation … he became man.” Jesus, teaches with authority because He is God- the originator, the source, the author of all creation of all that is good, true and beautiful.

Will we let our kids go?

The Gospel According to Mark 1:16-20

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,

he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;

they were fishermen.

Jesus said to them,

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Then they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther

and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.

They too were in a boat mending their nets.

Then he called them.

So they left their father Zebedee in the boat

along with the hired men and followed him.

    There is an immediacy the response to the Lord’s call that is striking.

He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.


 James and John left their father Zebedee, in the middle of their work. If we are to consider Mark’s words literally, they  left him “in the boat” with a bunch of hired hands.

How would we react if that were our children?

Would we let them go?

Do we respect that they have mission, a calling independent of our own from the Lord?

Do we help them and encourage them to discern this calling?

John is the youngest of the Apostles. The general speculation is that he was a teenager at the time of the Crucifixion.

We must consider deeply how we parent our children.

When the Lord calls them, will we let them go?