Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1/17/12 - The Sabbath Was Not Made For Man

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."


Yesterday we saw the Pharisees question Jesus regarding fasting. Today we see them questioning him on how He treated the Sabbath. His response is pretty interesting and shows the disconnect that the Pharisees had worked themselves into.

I've often struggled a bit with this passage, trying to understand what it actually means. Apparently I'm not the only one. If you enter "Sabbath was made for man" into Google you'll find a lot of discussion of all sorts of issues, many of them conflicting with each other. Actually it's an interesting snapshot of how well-meaning people can attach differing meanings to the same message.

When that happens, I go to the Church. Here's what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has to say:


2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."


As the CCC says ... the sabbath was made for honoring God, and for doing good rather than harm. It was made for man's benefit, to set aside time to worship God away from the daily labors that exist. It was not meant to enslave man or to be hurdle between man and God. Man wasn't made for the purpose of observing the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given to man to help him remain with God.

PS - I got to this CCC reference by going to this website and typing in "Mark 2:23-28". This is an excellent resource.


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