- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

September 5, 2016

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO [1]

22nd Saturday in Ordinary Time
Colossians 1: 21 – 23; Ps 54; Luke 6: 1 – 5

When Jesus proclaimed, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” surely He startled his audience, some of whom were definitely avowed enemies, and possibly, shocked His disciples as well. It was quite a statement of His identity.

For these people who were very knowledgeable of the Sacred Scriptures, the passage in the Book of Genesis had to come to their minds: “…God rested on the seventh day from all the work He had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy…” (Gen 2: 2, 3) And these words which Moses had proclaimed: “Take care to keep holy the Sabbath day as the Lord, your God commanded you.” (Dt 5: 12)

Explaining the action of His disciples eating the grain on the Sabbath, Jesus’s words about His identity could hardly be mistaken. Who is the Lord of the Sabbath? – only God who ordained it!

This was one more strike against Him, added to the growing list of accusations, building up the case to silence Him by death. It did not seem to matter to His enemies that His teaching touched hearts deeply – even some of their own, Nicodemus, for example – His hearers were saying, “No one has ever spoken as this man; He speaks with authority.” Not only that but they has seen Him cure people of various infirmities simply by His word, by a touch and even at a distance.

Yet, some could not believe no matter what, some chose not to believe and there were those who did and followed Him. All of which points to the mystery of belief: the action of God’s grace and the decision of a person to accept it. Belief, disbelief, unbelief – all are possible and ultimately are very difficult to explain, if not impossible.

And here we are – with countless brothers and sisters – people who do believe that Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath. This inner sight we possess and treasure is a miracle of grace – no less miraculous than Jesus power to heal. Without this gracious gift of belief from God Himself, we would live in darkness because such belief is beyond our human nature left to itself. Through the gift of faith God is able to communicate Himself to us so that we know that we are His and He is ours.

By faith we see, by faith we desire to see more and by this growing faith, we journey more and more into the mystery of God, we value God’s love and desire Eternal Life. Because of all this, we must be careful never to take this gift for granted, to treat God’s gift cheaply as it were something ordinary, common. Faith is, at once, God’s invitation and our response to Eternal Life.

In the Letter to the Colossians, St. Paul’s teaches: “God has now reconciled you…to present you holy, without blemish and irreproachable before Him provided you persevere in faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard.”