Tuesday, 2nd Week in Ordinary Time
“The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
The most basic principle for the good life is this: Believe in God and serve your neighbor. That is also the principle behind the sabbath: it is meant to help us rediscover God and our neighbor. Sabbath is meant to help to know God better and serve our neighbor better. The purpose of sabbath worship is to get our minds off ourselves and unto God and our neighbor. Service to the neighbor in need is the necessary extension of faith in the Lord.
To know God means personal, first-hand relationship with God. That is the real meaning of faith. Faith is more than head-knowledge. Faith is more than following rules and performing rituals. Faith is, rather, a living relationship with God which results in the fruit of concern for the neighbor.
Jesus, in today’s gospel, is telling us that we, his disciples, are not ruled by a code of laws nor even by a system of ethics. We are ruled by a person – the person of Jesus. If only we live out this truth, our obedience to the Lord is always at the same time an act of love – knowing that whatever Jesus commands us to do will always be for our own personal fulfillment as human beings.
Pope Francis keeps on reminding us to not allow ourselves be seduced or distracted by “ephemeral happiness” offered by the world. We must not allow ourselves to become mere machines for worldly pursuits and material things. We must strip ourselves of any form of complacency that makes us forget our identity as children of God. We must focus on what matters most in life: that is, to know, to love, and to serve the Lord.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, you remind us that to have faith in God is not just about keeping the sabbath; it is more than the laws we obey, the traditions we honor, the rites, rituals, and celebrations we attend. Faith is about loving God and loving our neighbor. Help us, then, to make our religion a religion of showing kindness, extending generosity, rendering humble service, manifesting compassion, and doing the works of mercy. Amen.