Do Good on the Sabbath

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The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Gil Alejandria, SVD (Catholic TradeManila)

Wednesday 2nd Week in Ordinary Time

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Jesus heals man with withered hands

When Jesus cured the man with a withered hand, he agitated the Pharisees because it happened on the Sabbath day. He posed a question that underlined the unique demand of the situation: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Mark 3, 4) For the Pharisees, strict observance of the law must prevail over anything else. Jesus used this opportunity to teach them that such a mindset should change; that any act that would ease human suffering takes precedence over the law.

In our daily life, we may encounter similar situations. There are established rules and regulations that govern our actions, especially in the workplace. Certain circumstances may require us to ‘bend the rules’ and make exceptions, reminding us that “the law was made for human beings, and not human beings for the law.” (Mark 2, 27)

I’m reminded of a story shared on Facebook about a bus conductor, who took pity on a poor older man who did not have enough money to pay the fare, and allowed him to ride for free. Or the story of the staff in a Jollibee outlet who gave a free meal to a homeless man who had only 20 pesos. The staff knew that his money would not buy him the food he needed. As they say, “Saan aabot ang twenty pesos mo?”

Such stories warm the heart and restore our faith in humanity.  We are assured that there are people who would not allow rules to prevent them from doing good to others. I want to think that they were inspired by Jesus, who taught us “to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it.” (Mark 3, 4)

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