Same Stuff, Different Day

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

Oh my — “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath,” or not?

Gospel Reflection for Thursday, January 19th, 2021 -- Mark 2:23-28

The definition of insanity is often described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog's Day, the Pharisees of Jesus' day keep on attempting to find fault, day after day, with no different results.

Jesus was called on the carpet quite frequently by the religious leaders of His day for “doing good things" on what was supposed to be a “day of rest.” As with yesterday’s Gospel reading, the Pharisees were incensed that Jesus would dare to defy the sabbath-day regulations. But, was He actually doing something contrary to God’s law, or man’s interpretation of them?

As I wrote yesterday, by the time of Christ, the Jewish Religious leaders had come up with a very detailed, rigorous, and legalistic set of guidelines surrounding their practice of faith, in a book called the “Mishnah.” So, according to the rules of the day, Jesus and His disciples probably shouldn’t have even been walking through that field, let alone munching on hand-picked grain. This brings up another interesting observation, the Pharisees were also working on the Sabbath by simply following Jesus through the fields.

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’ (Matthew 5:6). The hunger and thirst which He spoke of in that Beatitude are evidently spiritual, but it is amply illustrated in the two factual incidents recorded in today's Gospel, Mark 3:1-6.

The first is an account of a controversy that arose from the actions of Jesus’ disciples on one Sabbath when they were physically hungry.