HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR I. (1)










HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR I.

THEME: THE LAW OF LOVE

BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Mk 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

In His teachings, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their rigid and legalistic interpretation of the Law, ignoring the spirit behind it. He has nothing against the Law as given by God to Moses. In fact, He categorically declares that He has come, not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill and perfect them.
One way of doing this is by giving emphasis on the positive. Most of the Ten Commandments are formulated in the negative: “Thou shalt not…” And this is what the Pharisees stress in their teachings: ‘this not allowed’, ‘it is forbidden’, ‘that is against the law’, and the like. They are always quick to point out what is banned, seldom on what ought to be done.

In the Gospels, it can be noted that Jesus did not directly mention any of the Ten Commandments. This is not because He sees them as unimportant. Rather, He is well aware that these need to be properly understood and lived.

That is why, instead of the negative, He emphasizes the positive in His teachings. Even the ‘Golden Rule’, originally formulated in the negative is shifted to the positive: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31). And most especially, in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5) and on the Plain (Lk 6), Jesus teaches the Beatitudes, the formula for true holiness, based in being good and in doing good to others, with love as the primary and sole motivation.

In the Gospel today, the Pharisees accuse the disciples of Jesus because they are picking grains in the field, which, for them, is already considered as harvesting, an activity that is forbidden on the Sabbath. In defense of His disciples, Jesus lays down the principles that “the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath” and that He, “the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

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The first principle is a just a reminder that all laws are for the welfare of the people and not vice versa. The hunger of David and his men transcends a religious regulation, namely, that only the priests could eat the bread of offering. As Jesus declares, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ (Mt 9:13). Mercy is superior to the Temple sacrifices, the sabbath and other laws.

While the Jews believe that holiness consists in the strict observance of the Law, Jesus, on the other hand, insists that the Law is not an end in itself, but a means for the benefit of others. Observance of the Law, then, becomes truly praiseworthy and meritorious when it is for the well-being of others and oneself.

The second principle is that Jesus is not bound by human laws. He is the Son of God, and so, He is Master of everything in this world, even of the sabbath. Hence, over and above anything else, it is Jesus that we have to obey. And fortunately, He has only one command: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

The Law of Love transcends all other human positive laws. These laws may be necessary for the smooth functioning of human society, but they are not absolute. They have to abide by the Divine Law, especially the Law of Love. When a human law runs counter to God’s law, it is an unjust law, for it becomes detrimental and injurious to the people. Hence, St. Augustine said, “It seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all.”

Jesus has come to fulfill and perfect the Law, and this is through the Law of Love. By all means, let us obey all laws, divine and human. But let us be sure these are based on love, and our observance of them is motivated as well by love.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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