04th September 2021
Psalm 54:3-4, 6 and 8
HUMAN NEEDS AND RELIGIOUS LAWS
The first reading of today gives us our true identity as Christians. As Christians, followers of Jesus’ footsteps, our true identity can and only be found in Him who redeemed us and brought us back into relationship with God, our Father. Saint Paul tells us who we were before and who we are today.
Before we were far and alienated from God because of our sinful nature; “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:23). But we are now reconciled and brought back to our Father. This is what we call redemption and salvation freely given to us by Jesus Christ who is God; “we are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith”(Ro3:24,25). All this is because of God’s love and mercy for us. We need to acknowledge this.
And in the Gospel, Jesus corrects and teaches the Jews about the relationship between humans’ needs and the Sabbath laws. He emphasis on the priority of human needs over religious observance (Lk 6:1-11, Mt 12:1-8, Mk 2:23-27).
The Jews had extreme respect and absolute abiding on God’s laws, such as Sabbath’s. They were very serious and very strict in following the laws of God, words by words because they believe that following God’s law is the surest path to salvation and God’s protection and not doing so is destruction (Jer 17 :26). All this is very good and very much appreciated. But their problem was that they went to the extreme to the extent that they focused only on the law and forgot about the person and his needs.
The Jews could not tolerate what Jesus and his disciples did; “they plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them”, on a Sabbath. This was a terrible sin for them. Any kind of work done on a Sabbath violates Sabbath law. Jesus who is God seems in their eyes to violate God’s own words. But Jesus, knowing God’s mind, shows them that human needs are more important than respecting the law. Human, the end of the law precedes the law. Meeting human needs, hunger, transcends the law. And he gives the evidence of David and the Priest violating the law because of hunger. David fled from King Saul and was hungry, he and his companions entered to the Temple and ate the holy bread which was only reserved to the priests, (1Sam 21: 1, 3-4, 6). This was not lawful, but not sin because it was about meeting the need of human being, to save their life.
Jesus in this Gospel teaches us that we cannot separate worshiping God, fulfilling our spiritual duties such as prayers, attending daily or weekly masses from act of charity to our brothers and sisters who are most in need. We are bound to assist and extend our hands to help the needy. This act of charity is more important than just fulfilling any spiritual ritual and practices. And in fact at the end of time God will not ask us about how many times we have prayed or attended mass or said Rosaries. He for sure will ask us about giving food to the hungry, giving something to drink for those who are thirsty, giving shelter to the stranger, visiting the sick and prisoners,... (Mt 25: 35-26). Let us be aware of our Christian responsibilities toward our brothers and sisters who are in need especially in this difficult situation we all are passing through.
May the grace of God help us and make us to be always charitable to the poor and the needy.