Every day, we need to go to our quiet place...

Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:

January 20 A.D. 2009

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:

Hebrews: 6:10-20
Psalm 111:1-2, 4-5, 9-10
Mark 2:23-28

A reflection on today's Scripture:

Look, why are they doing something on the Sabbath day that is forbidden? (Mark 2:24)

The casual and unsuspecting reader of this scriptural passage would be forgiven for raising an eyebrow incredulously to heaven and asking: "How could an idyllic and companionable walk through ripening cornfields by Jesus and his disciples, plucking heads of grain as they journeyed on, provoke such naked hostility and undisguised contempt from the Pharisees? What is at stake here that is inflaming the wrath of the detractors of Jesus and his followers?"

Truth to tell, what is at issue here is a matter of life or death, of light or darkness, of obsessive, pitiless application of tyrannising laws or Divine compassion for human frailties. In Jesus' day the Jewish traditions and stipulations of the law had multiplied to such an extent that they placed an intolerable burden on people. There was no place in the religious leaders zeal for God or human weakness, and the adage that "charity knows no law" would have enraged them and provoked an accusation of blasphemy. Their fanatical insistence on the letter of the law blinded them to its true purpose: to give glory and honour to God and defend the dignity of the human person. Intolerable grief and anguish continue to crush people worldwide through the application of fundamentalist laws and edicts, designed, not for the glory of God, but to maintain the political status and power bases of the Pharisees of this age.

Jesus confronts the legalism and malice of the religious leaders. Referring them to 1 Samuel 21:1-6, He reminds them that even King David engaged in an act that was considered unlawful when he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, and then shared it with his companions. Jesus is making the point that since it is always lawful to do good and to save life (even on the Sabbath) both King David and his own disciples were within the spirit of the law: "The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath." People are more important than rules. The law is designed to guide our use of freedom, and not to regulate every action and stifle the spirit. The Sabbath observance was based on very wholesome foundations. However, man-made laws intruded and changed the atmosphere from one of celebrating and rejoicing in God's benevolence and unfailing graciousness to one of stifling and restrictive practices. Sterile and life-sapping rules predominated to the stage where a trivial act such as plucking an ear of wheat could be regarded as breaking the law.

In today's world, where secularisation remorselessly erodes Christian consciousness, the Sabbath (Sunday) is no longer a celebratory and holy day. A crude commercialism dominates and we need to revisit and refresh our minds on the central aspects of the Christian Sunday. It is life-giving and spiritually enriching for us to recover a sense of the sacredness and holiness of Sunday. First and foremost, Sunday is a day for deepening our relationship with our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. We thank Him for His unfailing presence throughout the past week and invoke His assistance and guidance in the execution of our affairs in the week ahead. Our Christian Sunday retains the original sense of holy repose. We rest from the daily grind of our work and business concerns. This special day permits more time for family togetherness and bonding.

- Patrick Doyle
| patadoylepsy@eircom.net

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

St. Fabian, pope and martyr

St. Sebastian, martyr

Lives of the saints:

Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:


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