IT IS LAWFUL TO DO GOOD ON THE SABBATH
God took six days to create the Universe. On the seventh day, He took rest!
Every time I reflect on this Biblical story of creation of the Universe – which we Christians call it ‘the Genesis’ – I smile.
Because, like all of us, the mortals, even the Almighty God had to ‘work hard’ – sweat it out – back-to-back everyday of the week! Then, like we humans, He too needed rest. So, He chose the ‘seventh day’ as the day of the rest. Just to be by Himself… to rejuvenate… recharge His batteries. Just do nothing… Let go. Relax… looking at and appreciating His creation…
Ever since then, the last day of the week – the Saturday – has been considered as ‘Sabbath’… the day of the rest!
So far so good!
But, what God indented, Man distorted, corrupted. The hardcore Hebrews stretched it too far. They did ‘no work’ on this day. I said, ‘no work’ of whatsoever nature claiming that it was sacrilegious - an offense to God! Yes, they fanatically observed Sabbath… through, what they thought worship to their God… fasting and praying… but, blissfully forgetting what God actually wanted to do on the seventh day!
God only wanted to rest. Reflect. Let go of the need, the compulsion… the rigidity of the ‘rules’…
Man created more rules, and destroyed the spirit of rest!
Man made worship the worst form of work!
Jesus Christ’s life is a life of rebellion against this kind of religious hypocrisy… the hardcore beliefs, the fundamentalism. He questioned the authority of the all-powerful and dreaded High Priests… He called them ‘Hypocrites’… ‘Vipers’… ‘Serpent’s children’… and, for that, He had to die on the Cross!
Christ knew how compassionate God was… How forgiving, how merciful and loving. To him, the living man was the living God… and, serving man was serving God. To him, man was the greatest temple of God… And, therefore, He taught them to reconcile… repent… resolve and move on. He healed all – the lepers, corrupt, criminals and even prostitutes. He healed them… gave them hope, new life. The dignity to live again!
Rules were the last thing Jesus Christ would give to an earnest soul on this earth… He broke all the rules, including the ones on the ‘Sabbath’.
One day, Jesus went into the Synagogue with his disciples. There was a man whose hands were withered (a leper). The cunning Pharisees, who relentlessly conspired to trap Jesus, questioned Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
“Is there a man among you, who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out?” Christ countered.
Jesus knew the hypocrisy of the hard-cores, how they had distorted the essence of religion. So, He asked them this: “Then, how much more valuable a man than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do ‘good’ on the Sabbath.”
Thus, Jesus said to the suffering soul, “Stretch out your hands!”
The man obeyed. And, he was healed!
But, the Pharisees went out and conspired against Jesus, as to how they might destroy Him!
Why am I writing on this subject, today?
I am a Catholic. Like every other religion, there are rules and guidelines framed for us by the Catholic Church. All rules, when started, were started with good intention. They were meant for our good and not its opposite.
For example, Divorce. We, Catholics, can not call off our marriage so easily?
Because, we have been taught from the start: "Look, marriage is not a day or an event… It is a long journey…with lots and lots of ups and down. So, learn to work it out, with loads of patience, tolerance, understanding, maturity and dignity… and, yes, with prayer and God’s grace. It is a wonderful journey… very enriching, very satisfying in the end."
So, if you have this mindset, this heart, then, you will think thousand times before you strongly react to you spouse; before you say ‘Get lost’…
It is old-fashioned; but, I think, it is too humbling, too satisfying, in the end!
Having said that, this very rule relating to Divorce, too, can become a millstone around our necks, if imposed upon us with high-handedness!
There are circumstances, under which, the Catholic Church permits Divorce…
Not after our two or three bitter-arguments! Or even blows!
We are taught to ‘work it out’... and, I think, that's great, beautiful!
Then, there is the stand on Abortion.
Now, its intentions are clean and good: Sex is a responsible act… Expression of our deep love... a celebration through our marriage. We are taught to respect Life… not to destroy it. Not to indulge in reckless sex and go about destroying Life. Hence, the stand and the guidelines.
However, the same stand, when stretched too far, fanatically, can become that heavy stone around our necks!
Savita Halappanavar is a sad victim of such rigidity...
It’s really sad!
I am sure, if Jesus was that doctor, He would have thrown ‘man’s laws’ out of the windows and gone ahead – with God’s laws - and saved a precious life... Yes, He would have given out His neck rather than giving in!
“You hypocrites,” Jesus would have thundered at the blind-men, “how much more valuable a man, then, than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do ‘good’ on the Sabbath!”
'Sabbath’ means ‘the day of rest’… That’s all!
Whether you take rest on a Saturday, Sunday or any
other day… what difference does it, really, make?
… Yes, as long as you take good rest…
And, as long as you do ‘good’!
Like yours, my heart, too, bleeds for Savita! More so, because, I am a Catholic! And, even more so, because my Master, my Hero, Jesus Christ, certainly, would not have approved this blind act!
"Lord forgive them... for, they know not what they are doing!"
Pics.: Vivek D'Cunha