Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 1 COR 4:6B-15
Learn from myself and Apollos not to go beyond what is written,
so that none of you will be inflated with pride
in favor of one person over against another.
Who confers distinction upon you?
What do you possess that you have not received?
But if you have received it,
why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?
You are already satisfied; you have already grown rich;
you have become kings without us!
Indeed, I wish that you had become kings,
so that we also might become kings with you.For as I see it, God has exhibited us Apostles as the last of all,
like people sentenced to death,
since we have become a spectacle to the world,
to angels and men alike.
We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ;
we are weak, but you are strong;
you are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty,
we are poorly clad and roughly treated,
we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands.
When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
when slandered, we respond gently.
We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all,
to this very moment.I am writing you this not to shame you,
but to admonish you as my beloved children.
Even if you should have countless guides to Christ,
yet you do not have many fathers,
for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
Responsorial Psalm PS 145:17-18, 19-20, 21
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him,
he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD keeps all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Art: Gleaning by Arthur Hughes
Gospel LK 6:1-5
While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath,
his disciples were picking the heads of grain,
rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.
Some Pharisees said,
“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you not read what David did
when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering,
which only the priests could lawfully eat,
ate of it, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
Luke 6, 3-4: The response of Jesus. Immediately Jesus responds recalling that David himself also did things which were prohibited, because he took the sacred bread from the Temple and gave it to the soldiers to eat because they were hungry (I S 21, 2-7). Jesus knew the Bible and referred to it to show that the arguments of others had no foundation.
• Jesus knew the Bible almost by heart. What does the Bible represent for me?
let every creature bless his holy name
for ever and ever. (Ps 145,21)
Commentary on Luke 6:1-5 From Living Space
Yet another confrontation between Jesus and some Pharisees. Following immediately, as it does, after the parable about the patch and the wineskins, it confirms what Jesus said about the gap between the traditionalists and his vision.
He and his disciples were walking through a cornfield and it was a sabbath day. The disciples were plucking heads of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them. The sabbath did not forbid walking short distances. And custom did not forbid “gleaning”, that is, taking corn left over by reapers. It did forbid reaping and threshing. Only a very narrow-minded interpretation could have described plucking as reaping and rubbing between the hands as threshing but that seems to be what is happening here.
The disciples are asked, “Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath day?” Jesus answers very quickly and to the point. He makes no reference to the narrow-minded legalism that his critics reveal, the “old wineskin” mentality. Instead, he throws at them an incident. David and his men were hungry so they went into the house of God and, with his approval, ate the holy bread which only the priests were allowed to eat (1 Sam 21:6). Each sabbath, 12 loaves of fresh bread were set on a table in the Holy Place. The stale bread was eaten by the priests.
As king, David put himself above the law. Both David’s and the disciples’ actions involved godly men doing something forbidden by law. However, it is never a violation of a law to do what is good and to save life (eating for survival). In that sense both David and the disciples were within the spirit, though not the letter, of the law.
And Jesus, too, is above the law, “The Son of Man is master of the sabbath.” Jesus has the authority to overrule man-made laws concerning the Sabbath, particularly as interpreted by the Pharisees. This does not mean, of course, that Jesus (or even God for that matter) can or will do anything he feels like doing. Jesus will never go against anything that involves the True or the Good; with his Father he is the Source of all that is true and good.
But many of the Jewish laws (like civil laws) are positive law. In themselves, they involve matters which are neither good nor bad. In itself, it is neither good nor bad to stop at a green light or go through a red one. It is neither good nor bad in itself to abstain from work on the sabbath. What makes these acts good or bad is the deeper good of which they are a sign. That deeper good may sometimes involve their non-observance. Hunger and survival may over-ride a rule to fast. In a matter of extreme urgency it may be necessary to drive (safely) through a red light. The letter of the law is violated but not the good it intends.
Some manuscripts of Luke contain a very pertinent saying at this point: “On the same day, seeing a man working on the sabbath day, Jesus said to him: ‘Friend, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed; but if you do not know, you are accursed as a breaker of the Law’.” (Jerusalem Bible, loc. cit.) That is a sentiment that goes with new wine and new wineskins.
If truth and goodness are not violated by doing or not doing something, can we way there is sin or evil there?
The disciples of Jesus are accused by the Pharisees of not keeping the Sabbath holy — Because they picked grain and ate it
In the Mosaic age, God elevated Aaron and his levitical sons (Ex 40:12-15) to be the fathers and priests of the tribal family of Israel (Judg 17:10; 18:19). The same principle carries over on a spiritual level in the age of the New Covenant, where Christ, our great high priest, ordains men to the ministry of spiritual fatherhood for ‘the priestly service of the gospel’ (Rom 15:16)” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible).Jesus, then, is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him.Through the calling of the twelve Apostles, Jesus forms the new Israel, the New People of God. As Christians, we are called to imitate Jesus’ humility and meekness of heart. Throughout the centuries many saints, like Paul, offer to Christians models worthy of imitation.
God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 COR 4: 6B-15; LUKE 6:1-5 ]
For those of us unfamiliar with the customs of the Jews, we find it incomprehensible, even ludicrous, that they were so sticky on the observance of the Sabbath Law. Why the big fuss and petty squabbles over Jesus’ breaking the Sabbath Law? This was because the Sabbath law was given by God Himself through Moses and therefore it is held to be sacrosanct.
But the crux of the problem, or contention, lies in the divergent way of applying this law concretely in daily life. The Sabbath Law can be interpreted widely or narrowly. The Ultra-orthodox Jews dictated the details of what constituted “work”, and hence, infringement of the law, in every imaginable scenario. The day is supposed to be kept holy and consecrated entirely to God by reading the Torah. Unfortunately, in their anxiety to observe the letter of the law, they overlooked the spirit of the Law. So intent were they in making sure that they did not break the law on the Sabbath Day that they would not even lend a hand to someone who might be in trouble, because that was considered “work”.
It was this total disregard for their fellowmen in the name of giving honour to God that irked Jesus, as it is against the sin of charity. To state His case, Jesus deliberately healed the sick on the Sabbath day, and in today’s instance, He also defended His disciples for “picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them.” The intention of the Sabbath is to help them and us to remember that God is our Lord; that He is the provider of all our needs, so that we will learn to trust in His Divine providence. It is also a time for us to deepen our bonds and relationships with our loved ones, besides giving rest to our physical bodies. The observance of the Sabbath was not intended to become a hindrance to helping those in need, or be the cause of our neglect of the essential things in life. So in truth, Jesus did not break the Sabbath Law, but He rejected the extremist interpretation of the law.
Indeed, St Paul warned the Corinthians about being judgmental and having self-importance. He wrote, “it is not for you, so full of your own importance, to go taking sides for one man against another. In any case, brother, has anybody given you some special right? What do you have that was not given to you? And if it was given, how can you boast as though it were not?” Even if we could observe the Sabbath Law, we should not allow pride to take the better of us. Although holiness requires our cooperation, it is itself the grace of God. So if we are living a holy and righteous life, rather than acting smug, we should praise and thank God in humility for His grace and pray that others who are living in sin would be able to respond to His grace as well.
St Paul exhorted the Christians to put the unity of the community and the love of Christ above all else. Indeed, we must not act and behave like the Christians at Corinth, who were proud of their wisdom, superior knowledge and their spiritual gifts. St Paul reminded them that all these gifts that they had received came from God; hence there was no basis for them to feel proud or superior to others.
However, the real problem today is laxity rather than strict observance of the Sabbath. For many Catholics, the practice of the Sabbath, if it is observed at all, is often reduced to attending Sunday Mass. Many have the impression that this is what the observance of the Sabbath is all about. On the contrary, giving time to God is not to be confined to a Church service. We are called to give reverence to God the whole day. Sabbath is a day of rest so that instead of devoting ourselves to the mundane tasks of life, the non-essentials, we dedicate the day to what is truly essential, namely, the adoration of God who is our creator, and the fostering of relationships with our loved ones in the family and with friends and the Christian community.
Indeed, what does it mean to keep the Sabbath holy? It means that we do not waste the day sleeping or idling, and engaging in frivolous activities, but to consecrate the day by living well and glorifying God in all that we do. Of course, one should take some physical rest to recuperate from the week’s labour. But to rest our body without God is not complete. We also need spiritual rest for the soul. The Sabbath is a time when we are called to cultivate and strengthen our union with God and with our fellowmen. It is a time to appreciate the wonders of creation, and especially a time to bask ourselves in the love of God and to transmit this love to our loved ones and friends and even the poor.
But to exclude God from Sunday and all our activities is contrary to the spirit of the Sabbath. Some Catholic parents even demand that Catechism classes be held on Saturdays, so that they can “finish” their obligations by Saturday evening and have the whole Sunday free to do whatever they like. Even if we have activities, these activities must be wholesome and edifying, not activities that are worldly and worse still, a disgrace to the gospel life.
This also explains why works of love and essential services not only can, but must be performed, on the Sabbath day. If Jesus was annoyed with the scribes and Pharisees in the way they observed the Sabbath, it was because they fulfilled the requirement at the expense of charity and compassion. Hence we read in the first reading how St Paul worked tirelessly for the gospel day in and day out. We too must use this day well for the service of the gospel.
How then should we observe the Sabbath? It would be ideal to begin the day with prayer, especially going early to Church, at least half an hour before the service, to spend time in prayer, meditating on the scripture readings of the day, reviewing the week’s activities, the times when we have failed to manifest the love of God, the times when God revealed His love and mercy to us; and finally, consider how we want to live life anew in the new week ahead of us. After the celebration of the Mass, we must then take the opportunity to spread the love of Christ received at the Eucharist, either by spending quality time with our loved ones, spouse, children, elders, or visiting the sick, or rendering service to the people of God. Can you truly say at the end of the day that your day has truly been pleasing to the Lord and that God has been glorified in all that you said and did? If you can, then the day has been kept holy.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
Jesus then summarized his argument about the Sabbath and about his own identity: “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (verses 7-8). Again, Jesus is using a ritual law (sacrifice) as a basis for his disciples’ activity on the Sabbath. Just as mercy is more important than sacrifice, mercy is also more important than Sabbath rules.
Jesus is telling the Pharisees that love for humans is more important than sticking to worship rituals. Holy bread can be given to ordinary people when they are hungry. Holy time can be used in an ordinary way when people are hungry. If the Pharisees had understood the intent of the law, they would not have been criticizing the disciples. They would have been merciful, not judgmental.
Jesus ends the discussion with his claim to be Lord of the Sabbath — someone who had more authority than the Sabbath. It is not just that Jesus claimed to have a more accurate understanding of how the day should be kept — he claimed to be more important than the day itself. This claim was so stupendous that some Pharisees thought he blasphemed and deserved to die (verse 14).
Feast of Saint Gregory The Great
What If The Smartest Person in The World Forgot Everything and Suffered From Dementia? (An essay on Gregory the Great or Albert the Great — how’s your memory?)
Art: Pope St Gregory the Great by Joseph Marie Vien — Musee Fabre
Tags: 1 cor 4:6b-15, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”, gleaning, God has exhibited us Apostles as the last of all, he took the sacred bread from the Temple, Jesus’ breaking the Sabbath Law, like people sentenced to death, Lk 6:1-5, Mercy is what pleases me not sacrifice, Nazareth, Prayer and Meditation, Prophet Hosea, Ps 145, Psalm 145, Saint Gregory the Great, Saturday was instituted for man and not man for Saturday, September 3 2016, St. Gregory the Great, the author of the Bible is God himself., The day is supposed to be kept holy and consecrated entirely to God by reading the Torah, The disciples were plucking heads of corn to eat on the Sabbath, the parable about the patch and the wineskins, The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath, when persecuted we endure;, When ridiculed we bless, when slandered we respond gently, why are you boasting