28 October 2010

THE SUBSTANCE OF OBEDIENCE

Friday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time
Lk 14:1-6

There are four instances in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus cures on a Sabbath. We read them in Luke 6:6, 13:13, 14:4, and 14:38. In these four instances, Jesus violates the law of Sabbath rest. This is one of the reasons why His enemies criticize Him. According to them, the act of healing goes against the Third Commandment which rules, “Thou shall keep holy the Sabbath Day.”

In our gospel today, Jesus heals on a Sabbath again. He defends His act with an easy question but is rather difficult for His critics to answer: “Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath Day without hesitation?” In other words, Jesus confronts not only their sense of being humane but also their common sense.

In other instances when Jesus violates the Sabbath rest because He shows compassion toward a suffering fellow human being, He defends His act by emphasizing that the need of anyone is more important – therefore must first be met – than the law on Sabbath rest (Lk 5:3). This defense, however, further infuriates His critics. In Luke 6:5, Jesus even boldly claims that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. This means that He has authority over the Sabbath. But God alone has authority over the Sabbath because the command to keep holy the Sabbath Day came from God; therefore, God alone can suspend the law on Sabbath rest. Simply said, Jesus claims that He Himself is God.
That Jesus is God is no longer a point of contention among us. We believe the Jesus, indeed, is the Son of God. Nonetheless, is it not a very important lesson for us to see that God Himself disregards His own law for the sake of a greater good, for the well-being of people like brining comfort to the afflicted? What is truly important for God is not the law but every person. The essence of the law is not in the law in itself but in what it positively contributes to the welfare of people. In God’s eyes, obedience to the law is good but enslavement to the law is always bad. A law that enslaves cannot come from God.

There are instances when we find our selves in situations that are similar to Jesus’ when he breaks the rule on Sabbath rest. Only one thing should we always keep in mind: The law is important, but more important is man. Because God is love, deciding and acting according to the law of love is imitating God. And this is must always be the substance of observing any law.

What is the substance of our obedience?

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