Saturday, September 03, 2005

Gospel for Sept 3, Memorial: St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church

From: Luke 6:1-5

The Law of the Sabbath

[1] On a Sabbath, while He (Jesus) was going through the grainfields, His disciples plucked and ate some ears of grain, rubbing them in their hands. [2] But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are You doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?" [3] And Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: [4] how 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 also gave it to those with him?" [5] And he said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."


1-5. Accused by the Pharisees of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus explains the correct way of understanding the Sabbath rest, using an example from the Old Testament. And, by stating that He is "Lord of the Sabbath" He is openly revealing that He is God Himself, for it was God who gave this precept to the people of Israel. For more on this, see the notes on Matthew 12:2 and 12:3-8.

[The notes on Matthew 12:2 and 12:3-8 states:
2. "The Sabbath": this was the day the Jews set aside for worshipping God. God Himself, the originator of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3), ordered the Jewish people to avoid certain kinds of work on this day (Exodus 20:8-11; 21:13; Deuteronomy 5:14) to leave them free to give more time to God. As time went by, the rabbis complicated this divine precept: by Jesus' time they had extended to 39 the list of kinds of forbidden work.

The Pharisees accuse Jesus' disciples of breaking the Sabbath. In the casuistry of the scribes and the Pharisees, plucking ears of corn was the same as harvesting, and crushing them was the same as milling-types of agricultural work forbidden on the Sabbath.

3-8. Jesus rebuts the Pharisees' accusation by four arguments-the example of David, that of the priests, a correct understanding of the mercy of God and Jesus' own authority over the Sabbath.

The first example which was quite familiar to the people, who were used to listening to the Bible being read, comes from 1 Samuel 21:2-7: David, in flight from the jealousy of King Saul, asks the priest of the shrine of Nob for food for his men; the priest gave them the only bread he had, the holy bread of the Presence; this was the twelve loaves which were placed each week on the golden altar of the sanctuary as a perpetual offering from the twelve tribes of Israel (Leviticus 24:5-9). The second example refers to the priestly ministry to perform the liturgy, priests had to do a number of things on the Sabbath but did not thereby break the law of Sabbath rest (cf. Numbers 28:9).]


Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the aculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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