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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 6, 1-5

It happened that one Sabbath he was walking through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them.

Some of the Pharisees said, 'Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath day?'

Jesus answered them, 'So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry-

how he went into the house of God and took the loaves of the offering and ate them and gave them to his followers, loaves which the priests alone are allowed to eat?'

And he said to them, 'The Son of man is master of the Sabbath.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem and on a Sabbath he is going through a wheat field. The disciples pick heads of grain, rub them between their hands and eat them. According to Rabbinical law, pick up the grain and eating it on a Sabbath was not permissible. And the Pharisees, scrupulous observers of the law, but distant from the life and heart of the people, see what the disciples are doing and accuse them of not respecting the Sabbath. The rabbis, in effect, had listed 39 kinds of work forbidden on the Sabbath, among them reaping, beating and airing out the grain. Obviously, their charge is against the teacher who does not guide them properly according to the law. Jesus avoids entering directly into a casuistic discussion, but responds to their accusation by recalling an episode in which David, fleeing from Saul, who wanted to kill him, took refuge in the temple. The priest allowed the fugitive David to eat the bread of proposition (as they were put in front of God) intended solely for the priests the week of worship. David’s need to eat compelled the High Priest Ahimelech to waive this statutory provision to allow him to sustain himself and survive. Jesus then says, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” With this answer, Jesus places himself on a level higher than that of David. And, as is seen in other parts of the Gospel, Jesus explains that the true interpretation of the law regarding the “day of rest” is to put oneself totally and fully at the service of the Lord. It is not a matter of appearing outwardly to observe rituals. The Lord asks us to rest from work so that we may participate in the Holy Liturgy where we are built up as one family of God and so that we may all, especially the poor, the young and the sick, experience the joy of being brothers and sisters together in a moment of celebration, of rest. Jesus is Lord also of the Sabbath, which does not mean that one is to disregard the prescriptions of the law, but means that the time of salvation consists of liberating brothers and sisters from the loneliness, pain and bondage of an inhuman condition. And it is inhumane to fill our time to the brim with a spirit of commercialism. Christians must ask, in a world where everything seems to fall victim to the law of the market and consumerism, whether there is an urgent task for Christians in our societies to re-propose the value of the Sabbath as a day of praising God, of fellowship and care for the poor.

Sunday Vigil