“In The Spirit Of The Law!”(Mk.2:23-28).
In an imaginary country the punishment for stealing a loaf of bread was chopping off the right hand of the thief.
One day a twelve year old boy was caught stealing a loaf of bread. This boy had a very sick mother at home. They had gone for a full day and night without anything to eat. He begged for food around but was scolded or mocked or beaten. When he couldn’t bear it anymore as he thought of his helpless, hungry sick mother. So he stole the loaf of bread from a grocery store.
The store owner caught him and called the police who took him and locked him up in a cell.
Two weeks later he was arraigned before a magistrate. He was found guilty and his hand was cut off. Meanwhile few days after this boy was locked up, a foul stench filled the air in the neighborhood where he lived. Following the direction of flies, they discovered the decomposed body of the boy’s mother.
Bitter irony: The grocery store owner who gave the boy to the police had embezzled money somewhere to begin his grocery store. The police who locked the boy up was notorious for collecting bribe. And the magistrate who passed the judgment had syphoned money that was allocated for the renovation of the courthouse.
That notwithstanding, the above is just an aside.
On the day before the Sabbath a modern Pharisee would have stocked his fridge with foodstuffs that can last one Sabbath day to another. Then it is the Sabbath day proper, and here comes a wandering teacher (Jesus Christ) passing through grainfields. His disciples are hungry and they pick some heads of grain.
The Pharisees tell their master, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Technically Jesus’ disciples are harvesting, but it is the seventh day on which rest is recommended, “even during plowing season and harvest you must rest”(Ex.34:21).
However, it is lawful to do good and to save life always, even on the Sabbath. Picking heads of grain to eat is life-saving. The disciples were not harvesting to carry home to a storehouse; they picked the grains to satisfy their immediate need of hunger.
There are exceptions to certain rules – rightfully considered as “situational ethics.” It is the same kind of situational ethics which David and his disciples applied in the days of Abiathar the high priest(I Sam.21:1-6).
The disciples, just like David were within the spirit of the law. Laws are not intended to enslave. Laws are yardsticks intended to create a balance, equity and equality.
Above all of these, the Lord Jesus Christ came as an end to the law not in the sense of abolishing the law, but that he is the embodiment of the law, the culmination of the law, and he himself is the law.
Faulty Pharisaic interpretation of the law have caused untold damages because legalism robs the inherent spirit of the law, which is liberating.
Therefore, as we respect the Lord’s day of rest we should act within the spirit of the law which is to always do good and save life.
Weekend prayer: Holy Spirit endow us with the ability to always understand and act within the spirit of the law. Amen!
Have a blessed weekend! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.
“Arm Yourself With The Same Attitude Of Suffering In The Body…!”(I Pt.4:1-6).The emphasis of “Joy to the world…” at Christmas more often than not multiply