The Gospel Today
Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
“Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather that to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Lk. 6:9).
The word Sabbath means rest. It is a day in a week when God requested it to be holy to allow everyone to rest. In Exodus 20:10 it is written that “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you.”
According to one commentary, the law of rest (Sabbath) is one of the fundamental laws of the Bible but that does not prevent the possibility of this law causing oppression, and for that reason it must at times be dispensed with. The same with some of the sacred laws of the Church. Sometimes these laws may serve as hindrances to the Gospel and if that be the case, Christian conscience, with the enlightenment of the the Holy Spirit, must find a better way how to uphold what is good.
Working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry for 15 years was for me an experience of hard work. I worked long hours daily to deliver my best. I enslaved myself from Mondays to Fridays and if needed, I even worked on my sixth day which was on a Saturday. However, I made sure that my Sunday was a day for me to rest from work. There were questions though from the office on why I could not be asked to work on a Sunday. I would always insist that it was a Sabbath for me. Sunday was sacred. Not that I would be unproductive. Sunday for me was a hectic day in the Church – a rest from the never-ending demands of the office but a time to be busy with the Lord. Sunday was a day to offer my time and energy for the Lord who blessed me with everything. Of the seven days, Sunday was my date with my Creator.
Jesus and His disciples are not bound by Sabbath regulations when it is a question of doing good for people or saving a person’s life. In our Gospel, Jesus is telling us that if the law prevents us from doing what is good, then that law is contradicting what the Gospel teaches us. The Gospel is an invitation for me, as a priest in process, to stand up and be courageous for the teachings of Jesus amidst the threats of ridicule and persecution of our times.