Friday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Today's readings

“There is something greater than the temple here.”

 

Jesus uses this kind of argument with the Pharisees very often, because they are always missing the significance of what Jesus is doing.  They are among those who refuse to see that a man like him could possibly be the Messiah, God’s anointed one, the One who is to come.  And so they instead continue to ponder all the tiniest implications of the Law and look out for anyone who might be living contrary to their interpretation of what the Law meant.  And since Jesus had a very different idea of the meaning of the Law, that meant he and his disciples were always running afoul of the Pharisees.

 

“There is something greater than the temple here.”

 

In today’s Gospel story, the Pharisees are supposedly defending the law that the Sabbath was a day of rest, in accordance with the Third Commandment.  What the disciples were doing though, was to provide food for their own hunger.  The disciples weren’t rich men, and so we can probably surmise that they depended on the generosity of those with means who had been touched by Jesus’ message or ministry.  The Law itself provided that grain in the fields that was not taken up by the first pass of the harvest was to be left in the field for the poor.  But the Pharisees mostly didn’t care about the poor, so they wouldn’t have seen that application.  But even worse than that, they didn’t see that Jesus was inaugurating a whole new Law – one that God always intended – one that provided for the needs of people rather than just the minutiae of the law.

 

“There is something greater than the temple here.”

 

So we have to hear this too.  Because there is always the temptation to defend the rules instead of seeing how the rules apply to people.  Even our own Canon law, with its many rules and regulations, provides that the most important part of the law is that it is to assist in the salvation of God’s people.  The law is meaningless in and of itself.  Law is there to help people on the way to salvation, to help people to know Christ, who is certainly greater than the temple, greater than the law.  And so, whenever we’re tempted to bind ourselves with our own interpretation of the law or rules of the Church, we should instead submit ourselves to the Gospel, which is the only authentic interpreter of the Law.  There is always something greater than the temple here.

 

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