Day Five: Monday, February 19

Mark 2:18-18

 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, and they came and asked Jesus, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?”

 Jesus said to them, “Can the groomsmen fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they can’t fast.   But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.   No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, or else the patch shrinks and the new tears away from the old, and a worse hole is made.   No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine pours out, and the skins will be destroyed; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins.”

 He was going on the Sabbath day through the grain fields, and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the Sabbath day?”

 He said to them, “Did you never read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry—he, and those who were with him?   How he entered into God’s house at the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the show bread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?”  He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.   Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jerry Irish uses a paraphrase of the answer Jesus gives when he is asked, “Look, why are your disciples doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” The paraphrase is spot on. “Because they are hungry.” Irish continues, “Providing basic human necessities, food in this case, trumps religious practice. As in Matthew 25, true righteousness is associated with feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoner (Matthew 25:35,36). The unavoidable revelation in today’s reading from mark is that keeping the Sabbath may deepen our awareness of God and thus heighten our awareness of human need and our own role in meeting that need. The more fully our actions are in response to God, the more fully those actions will benefit our hungry neighbors. On the other hand, keeping the Sabbath in a legalistic manner may inhibit that very divine-human interaction. As with any religious practice, what was meant to enhance our relation with God and neighbor can become idolatrous and inhumane.”
(Jerry Irish, Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 1, TheologicaL Perspective, p. 428, 430)

Day Six: Tuesday, February 20
Day Four: Sunday, February 18