One Sabbath Jesus was going through the corn fields and his disciples began to pick heads of grain crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, «Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?». Then Jesus spoke, «Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry?. He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread». And Jesus added, «The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath».
«The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath»
Fr. Austin Chukwuemeka IHEKWEME
Today, responding to the Pharisees' accusation, Jesus explains the correct meaning of the Sabbath, while quoting an example from the Old Testament (cf. Deut 23:26): «Have you never read what David did (...)?. He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread» (Lk 6:3-4).
David's behaviour anticipates the doctrine Christ teaches in this passage. God had already established in the Old Testament an order for the precepts of the Law, whereby those of less rank would yield to the main ones.
In the light of all this, it can be understood that a ceremonial precept (as the one we are commenting) yields to a precept of the natural law. The precept of Sabbath, likewise, is not more important than the elementary needs of subsistence.
In this passage, Christ teaches which was the meaning of the divine institution of the Sabbath: God had instituted it to man's benefit, so that he could rest and devote his time with peace and joy to the divine cult. However, the Pharisees' interpretation had transformed this day into a day of anguish and worrying because of the many directions and prohibitions.
The Sabbath had been set up not only for man's rest, but also to glorify God: this is the actual and true meaning of the expression «The Sabbath was made for man...» (Mk 2:27).
Furthermore, by declaring himself “Lord of the Sabbath” (cf. Lk 6:5), He openly manifests that He is the very same God who gave the precept to the people of Israel, thus confirming his divinity and his universal power. For this reason, other laws can be established, just as Yahweh did in the Old Testament. Jesus can therefore be called “Lord of the Sabbath”, because He is God.
Let us beg the Virgin Mother of God to help us believing and understanding that the Sabbath belongs to God and that it is a way —adapted to our own nature— to glorify and honour the Almighty. As Saint John Paul II has written, «our rest is a “sacred”» thing and an occasion «to realize that everything is the work of God».