One Sabbath he was walking through grainfields. As his disciples walked along with him, they began to pick the heads of grain and crush them in their hands. Then the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look! They are doing what is forbidden on the Sabbath!”
And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did in his time of need, when he and his men were very hungry? He went into the House of God, when Abiathar was High Priest, and ate the bread of offering, which only the priests are allowed to eat, and he also gave some to the men who were with him.” Then Jesus said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.”
Two issues are being highlighted by the Gospel: hunger and rest. Throughout Scripture, God offers abundance and an end to hunger. Jesus addresses this issue of hunger in connection with the Pharisees’ pervading attitude towards the Sabbath. They only saw one dimension in the incident at the grain fields—the strict observance of the Sabbath law, which was turning the day of rest, as originally intended by God, into a day of spiritual bondage. They did not see that hunger is a reality that needs addressing. Rest and freedom from bondage are synonymous to shalom—a state of wholeness and flourishing in every dimension of life. Today we see the interconnection of hunger and rest in many situations of impoverishment where people are held in servitude, being denied adequate food and rest. Many poor people deny themselves rest so that they can scour for food to feed their hunger. When God rested on the seventh day of creation, his rest was not one of inactivity or of indifference. God continues to be engaged in the work of providence. We are thus invited to participate in this work so that the hungers of the world may be alleviated.
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