The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

2nd Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Tue, 01/16/2018
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

This is what the Hebrew scriptures say in the Book of Exodus chapter 31, verses 13-17:
The Lord said to Moses: 13 You must tell the Israelites: Keep my sabbaths, for that is to be the sign between you and me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the Lord, who make you holy. 14 Therefore, you must keep the sabbath for it is holiness for you. Whoever desecrates it shall be put to death. If anyone does work on that day, that person must be cut off from the people. 15 Six days there are for doing work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord. Anyone who does work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 So shall the Israelites observe the sabbath, keeping it throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. 17 Between me and the Israelites it is to be an everlasting sign; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested at his ease.
 
It was for the sake of the salvation of God’s people, and under the penalty of death,
that the Old Testament rabbis were meticulous when defining the word “work”.
It came to pass that 39 categories of work were prohibited on the Sabbath.
For example, the winnowing of grain was prohibited on the Sabbath.
This fits into the category of the separation of intermixed materials
which renders edible that which is inedible.
Filtering undrinkable water to make it drinkable falls into this category.
Picking small bones out of fish also falls into this category.
So gefilte fish, which is made from poached de-boned fish, is often eaten on the Sabbath.
 
This was serious business, as was circumcision,
as far as living according to certain practices
which were signs of obedience to God’s commands.
Doing these things reminds the people and shows the world that they are God’s holy people.
 
The Pharisees were only fulfilling their responsibility when they confront Jesus
about the work his disciples are doing on the Sabbath.
Jesus doesn’t come back with the snarky response “laws are made to be broken”.
He says “there have been exceptions made to the law in Jewish history by important people,
King David for example.
Now is the time of similar exception.  Why?
Because the Son of Man is in your midst…the Messiah, the long awaited Savoir.”
Jesus doesn’t say this directly but implies that he himself can make exception to the law of God
because of who his is, the Son of God.
 
Today, as we live in a culture that has little regard for, little respect for religious practice,
exceptions to our religious obligations have become common place.
On whose authority are these exceptions made?
Surely we don’t want to imply that we as individuals have the same authority as the Son of God.
And I would dare say that human convenience, rather than human need,
motivate such exceptions.  We don’t want to be holy, we want to be comfortable.
And another thought:  what signs both remind us and also say to the world
“we are God’s holy people”?
And another thought:  is it arrogant to think that I can figure out how God wants me to live this life…I can figure it out all by myself?
 
The obligation to keep the 10 commandments still endures.
What is required now is that they be motivated by love of God, love of neighbor and love of self.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, preserve us in Your truth.  Help us to understand the importance of following Your commands.  You have called us to be Your children.  Provide what we need to make it so.  Amen!”