RCL Year B Proper 4
Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Psalm 81:1-10, II Corinthians 4:5-12, Saint Mark 2:23—3:6

On this Lord’s Day, the first of many Green Sundays, we have Lessons about the Sabbath Day itself and keeping it holy.

We have the old Sabbath and the new Sabbath. Deuteronomy gives us the old: “the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.”[1] This is the Sabbath the Pharisees have in mind when they reproach Jesus as his disciples pluck heads of grain and as Jesus himself restores a man’s withered hand.

Jesus tells them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.”[2] Thus Jesus inaugurates a new sabbath, a sabbath marked by the priority of human need over religious observance. The disciples need the heads of grain for food, and the man with the withered hand needs two hands.

This new meaning shows God’s love for all of humankind, and God’s intention to provide what humankind needs. We rightly remember the sabbath by remembering this: that God himself worked on the new sabbath, the first day of the week, when Jesus rose from the dead. Every sabbath, every first day of the week reminds us of God’s gift of his Son to us and how in him we have hope “to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.”[3]

May each of us remember always, and especially on Sundays, that God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said, * ‘Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.’”[4]

[1] Deuteronomy 5:14.

[2] Saint Mark 2:27.

[3] The Book of Common Prayer, page 861.

[4] Psalm 81:10.

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