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Second Week of Ordinary Time

Heb. 6:10-20 & Mk.2:23-28

When speaking about the virtue of hope, hope in the promises of God, the author of today’s first reading uses a nautical comparison, an anchor. Not one dropped from a ship to be lodged firmly in the sea bed, but an anchor thrown ahead of and beyond us into Heaven “reaching right through beyond the veil where Jesus has entered before us.” This hope sustains us amid the uncertainties, difficulties and sufferings of this present life and is anchored in that Heaven where Jesus is now. We are confident that if we have suffered and died with Christ, we shall also rise with Him.

In the Gospel the Pharisees showed how petty they could be in their Sabbath observance. Walking through fields His disciples began plucking the ears of corn and eating them as we might on hot summer days. But the Pharisees maintained that the disciples, by doing that on the Sabbath day, were breaking the Law.

Instead of stopping them Jesus reminded the Pharisees of how once David and his men fleeing for their lives, came to the tabernacle at Nob where the only food consisted of 12 loaves placed on a gold table in front of the Holy of Holies as an offering to God. It was changed once a week and then became the property of the priests alone, and in Leviticus 24:9 it was laid down that no one else was to eat it. Yet in their time of need David and his men ate that bread and so technically broke the Law.

Jesus was saying that Scripture provided a precedent in which human need took precedence over even divine law. He concluded with those famous words, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” Man was not created to be the victim and slave of Sabbath rules. The Sabbath rules were created to make life fuller and better for humanity; to give people time to rest one day a week and to worship and love God.

This passage presents us with truths we must never forget. Firstly, that religion does not consist just of rules but of love, forgiveness, service and mercy. Secondly, it teaches us that when there is a physical impossibility to be overcome there is no moral obligation. And thirdly, that if ever the performance of a person's religion stops them from helping someone in need, their religion is no religion because one of the best ways to worship God is to help people in need.

Lord Jesus, where You are we long to be. May You become the anchor in our lives as we demonstrate our love for You and our neighbours, even if this requires us to break the observance of Your rules to help people in need.

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