This text constitutes the argument over the observance of the Sabbath. As we all know, the decalogue is a very sensitive phenomenon and had an important place in the life of the Jews. They respected it and observed it, unconditionally. The Jewish community was thickly bound in “Torah”( The Law), though they strongly believed the Ten Comandments, in which God’s rule or standard was given to all the Jews by Moses. Breach of such law is an offensive act and also punishable. The value of the Laws, especially the religious laws, was so special because it became the center of Jewish Life. Thus, the temple authorities were keen in safeguarding it, to maintain the Jewish order by enforcing it in all domains of life. This text registers two incidents on the Sabbath and its observance. Luke registers the logical and the practical argument over such ceremonial practices in the context of life haunting issues. I like to map my thoughts in the following topics for more clarity.
- Insensitive in the context of hunger.
- Intentions in the context of disease.
In this passage, the disciples were very busy travelling with Jesus. When we trace Mathew 9:35, we can map how busy he was as it reads, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction”. So, the disciples were a part of Jesus’ ministry and many a time they enjoyed feasting; at times they lacked basic needs because they were mobiling as per the direction of the master.
There was a fierce argument between the disciples of Jesus and the Pharisees, where they accused the disciples by saying,“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” When they began to pick some heads of grain while they were passing through the grainfields, this occured. As the custodians of the religious traditions and the Ten Commandments, the Pharisees were indignant over the acts and attitudes of the disciples. However, Jesus gave a fitting reply to the question by quoting the act of King David over an issue of hunger where he eats the unleavened bread without any replacements from the Holy place.
This dialogical discussion explores certain theological arguments to navigate the priorities in life and its connectivity to people’s cry for life. The real spirituality is beyond ceremonial practices because God entrusted the Decalogue as the standard to human life to realize the totality of life for everyone. When people are in hunger, feeding them becomes the real ceremony for God. Human life is the center for God; thus, we see this expression, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son”.
The dominant world refuses to be sensitive to the people who are denied opportunities to have access over life. When the disciples wanted to quench their thirst of hunger, the eyes of the Pharisees were blinded because they were insensitive to the needs of others as well as obsessed with ceremonies.They did not understand God, the YHWH who cares for the poor and the destitute. Feeding the poor, caring for the needy, recognizing the rejected, respecting the meek, including the ostracized and strengthening the stigmatized sections are the true act of Divinity. If we cannot understand the pain of others, our spirituality becomes an insensitive one. It is connected to the inner self and the true virtue of it is possible only when one looks at the other as one’s self. This is possible only when God is with us.
The second event in this pericope pictures the assessment of the Pharisees’ intentions. Jesus engages in performing a miracle to understand the importance of observing the Sabbath, in a context of disease and suffering. Jesus dictates to do good in a rigid system of human disparities by urging their moral and spiritual sensibilities. More than the miracle, this event revolves on the panic and nervous notions of the Pharisees since they feared the leadership of Jesus. True leadership appreciates and participates in the rhythm of articulating measures which restore life. In spite of celebrating this miracle where Jesus heals a man whose right hand was shriveled, their hearts were burning with fire to consume Jesus.
The connotations of jealousy plundered their true selves and the oscillations between the vested self identity and God’s call, vacuumed their loyalty to the God of truth. Eventually, they also planned to breach the Torah by killing Jesus. They contradicted their own law and used it for their convenience. Law is given by God to urge the moral senses, to realize the ethics of Jesus based on “Love others like thyself”.
Intentions are very much connected to the soul of a person. Soul with God will always be affirmative and life oriented. It’s always positive. It is honest and transparent before others and God. However, many times the “sense of fear”, and the unnecessary phobias alienate oneself from God, from themselves as well as from others.
Thus this study invites us to have right intentions and be sensitive to people’s cry around us. If the Laws are misunderstood, just as the codes of dictation, then, the purpose of life becomes horrible. The Law of Love empowers us to reorient our way of thinking and existence.
As Saint Paul rightly points out, we are called to imitate Christ. Thus, it urges us to be sensitive with life- affirming intentions to make the symphony of life a reality.
May God Bless these words.