Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel passage has the Pharisees going to Jesus with criticism of his disciples for picking grain on the sabbath. 

Does God need compliance with these rules?  God needs nothing.  God is all good.  We say that God cannot change because God is already completely perfect.  Any change would mean the possibility of God improving or getting worse. 

If God needs nothing, then God did not need to make us.  We were not created out of need, but out of love.  God wants to share his love with us.  Nothing that we do fulfills any need of God. 

So, in today’s passage, we have absurdity in two ways.  First, Jesus is God.  God the Son incarnate as a human being.  Fully human, yes.  But also, fully divine.  So, there is the absurdity of the Pharisees criticizing God for allowing his followers to violate a rule that was originally given by God.  Can God be complicit in violating God’s law?

Second, we have a law that has been completely taken to an absurd level.  Any prohibition on work on the sabbath was meant to ensure that work responsibilities did not overtake necessary time for worship, family, and rest.  Forcing a fast because one cannot even gather food to eat was never intended.  How do we handle it now?  We certainly do not start fasting on Sunday to avoid the work needed to prepare a meal.

So, why do such rules exist at all? 

One thing to remember is how God gradually revealed himself to his people over millennia.  He met people where they were at and led them closer to where they needed to be.  It was not until the Father was revealed by the Son that we have the fullness of revelation for us.  The original Jewish laws reflected where the Jewish people were at that time.  Remember how Jesus referred to one aspect of the old Jewish law by saying that Moses had given it to them because of the hardness of their heart.  They were not ready for the fullness of the law that Jesus would ultimately bring.

Remember also that God’s laws are for our benefit.  God gives us laws to help us.  God knows his creatures.  He made us.  So, he knows us.  He knows what we need.  He wants what helps us to flourish.  So, all of God’s laws are meant to lead us toward our highest flourishing.  Toward our greatest fulfillment.  Following the laws are not the point of life.  Eternal life in communion with the Trinity is the purpose of this life.  And the laws are meant to guide us there.

Have we ever lost sight of why we follow laws of our faith?  Have we ever accused others of failing to follow rules in the Church without remembering their real purpose?