At first glance today's Gospel selection makes it appear that Jesus is attacking the idea of sabbath rest. But that is not the case. We have two sabbath events in Luke today: the first is the disciples picking heads of grain, rubbing them together and eating them; the second is Jesus healing an individual with a withered hand in the synagogue.
Neither of these were emergency situations. The disciples probably could have waited a bit longer to eat. The individual with the withered hand had been like that for a long time and could probably have waited a day to be healed. But Jesus defends not only his actions in the synagogue but his disciples taking care of themselves.
One of the things Jesus is driving at in today's encounters on the sabbath is that when we bump into someone who requires our assistance, whenever that is, where ever that event happens, whether or not it is convenient to us or those around us, whether or not we break some human made rules..... we need to respond......we need to act appropriately and accordingly and immediately. I think Jesus is acknowledging a basic human predilection to not only procrastinate but also to forget. By responding immediately, and trying to help a person in need who crosses our path, at the moment they cross that path, is a way of creating the kingdom around us with immediacy.
Jesus is modeling a behavior for us today that is important to take to heart: responding, now, not at some point down the road.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.