“Scraping off the rust of legalism and ritualism; instead, polishing our lives with the virtues of mercy, empathy and compassion!”
(Based on Is 38:1-6,21-22, 7-8 and Mt 12:1-8 – Friday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time)
Most of us, at some point or the other, have given gifts to our loved ones, our friends or our relations.
Imagine, if the one who received the Gift, were to neatly…unwrap the Gift Wrapper…
And to your horror….throws the Gift inside the Dustbin, and keeps to oneself, only the Gift Wrapper?
That would too be sad and painful …right?
Well, something similar is the case, when we look into the Salvation History.
God Yahweh had presented a Gift to the People of Israelites: The Gift of the Law…
… so that He could be their Only God and they could always be His People ( Jer 7:23)
But as time passed, this Gift of the Law was interpreted into several external practices…
So much so that the purpose of the law was forgotten…
… and only the external regulations were prevailing.
The Gospel of the Day is an exposition of how the Gift that God had given was being squandered…
… and just the externals – the wrapper of the gift – was being glorified…
and how, Jesus the Source of the Law seeks to restore the original spirit of the Law!
The Gospel passage begins with the Pharisees accusing the disciples of having transgressed the Sabbath Laws by plucking and eating on the Sabbath Day (Cf. Mt 12:2).
The External actions were accorded primacy…
.. the actual Law was slowly discarded!
The Body of the Commandment was insisted…
.. the Spirit of the Law was diluted!
The Gift wrapper gained more importance than the Gift Itself!
The Law of Moses was glorified, but there was a failure to see the Glorious God of the Law!!
And so today, the Majestic Lord of the Sabbath seeks to capture our attention to see the Most Important Aspect of Law: Inner Disposition rather than External Practices!
True Righteousness and Holiness stems from the with’in’…
… and not from the with’outs’!!
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word sabat…which means repose or rest.
Just a few verses before this Reading… Jesus invited us “to take REST in Him” (Mt 11:28)
The Real Rest is in Him!
The Real Sabbath is in Him!
And Jesus, the True Rest and the Lord of the Sabbath is also a Might Defender of His Chosen Ones…
The Lord refutes the charges of the Pharisees, on three levels:
a. As a King
Jesus quotes the example of how King David had consumed holy bread, which was reserved only for the priests.
And yet, King David is never condemned and neither is his action worthy of being guilty
b. As a Priest
Jesus quotes the temple priests who perform work on a Sabbath.
And yet, it is not considered a religious violation, but is acceptable as a Sacred Duty.
c. As a Prophet
Jesus quotes Prophet Hosea and spells out God’s mind of Mercy being of greater value and importance than sacrifice!
Yes, Jesus, the True King, the Holy Priest and the Mighty Prophet…
… quotes the example of a King, a Priest and a Prophet to Defend His Chosen Ones and to declare that He is the Lord of the Sabbath!
Jesus Himself is the Real Rest and the Real Sabbath!
We need to examine…
Do I tend to become more legalistic in my mentality and fail to see the Spirit of the Law?
Do I become rigid in my external practices and rituals, but fail to relish the Heart of Worship?
In the Old Testament, we read about King Hezekiah who sought to live a righteous and blameless life, before the Lord. With sincerity of heart, the king prays:
“Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight!” (Is 38:3)
The Lord has gifted us His Commandments and Laws…
… so that HE can be our Only God and we can always be His Beloved People.
Do I cherish the inner dimensions of the Law and treasure this Gift?
Or am I giving more importance only to external factors, like the Gift Wrapper?
Let us scrape off the rust of legalism and ritualism…
Let us, instead, polish our lives with the virtues of mercy, empathy and compassion!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Obedience is…
… a consecration of the heart
… chastity of the body
… and poverty of all worldly goods to the Love and Service of God!