Sunday, June 3, 2018
Deuteronomy makes clear that sabbath-keeping is meant for the welfare of all. God delivered the Israelites out of slavery, so they should not ever work anyone else seven days a week. Even slaves should be able to rest; even resident aliens. Yet human beings can turn even the most liberating religious practice into a life-destroying rule. Jesus does not reject sabbath-keeping, but defends its original life-enhancing meaning. Our worship and our religious way of life are to lead to the hungry being fed and the sick being healed.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 5:12-15
Part of the Ten Commandments, these verses instruct the Israelites to keep the Sabbath. The Israelites are to rest and they are to allow their slaves, their livestock, and the foreigners living among them to do the same. They were once slaves, and so they are to treat their own slaves justly.
12Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 15Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
Psalm: Psalm 81:1-10
Raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob. (Ps. 81:1)
1Sing with joy to | God our strength
and raise a loud shout to the | God of Jacob.
2Raise a song and | sound the timbrel,
the merry harp, | and the lyre. R
3Blow the ram’s horn at | the new moon,
and at the full moon, the day | of our feast;
4for this is a stat- | ute for Israel,
a law of the | God of Jacob.
5God laid it as a solemn charge upon Joseph, going out over the | land of Egypt,
where I heard a voice I | did not know:
6“I eased your shoulder | from the burden;
your hands were set free from the grave- | digger’s basket. R
7You called on me in trouble, and I de- | livered you;
I answered you from the secret place of thunder and tested you at the wa- | ters of Meribah.
8Hear, O my people, and I will ad- | monish you:
O Israel, if you would but lis- | ten to me!
9There shall be no strange | god among you;
you shall not worship a | foreign god.
10I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the | land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and | I will fill it. R
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12
When we carry out God’s ministry we do so not for our glory but for the sake of Jesus Christ whom we proclaim as Lord. The power for ministry comes from God, not us, so that we persevere no matter what, trusting in God’s power and promises at work through us.
5We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Gospel: Mark 2:23–3:6
Jesus challenges the prevailing interpretation of what is lawful on the sabbath and tells his critics that the sabbath was made for humankind, not the other way around. Healing the man with the withered hand is work that cannot wait until the next day.
23One sabbath [Jesus] was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
3:1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
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