As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry? How he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions? The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
I need to cut back on family visits, especially when it involves a dinner. Priests know to eat a light breakfast and a light lunch when they are invited to dinner over a parishioner’s home. Why? Because these wonderful people love to treat us like kings! But eating like a king every night can actually make me wonder if these people actually love me or want to depose me!
Out of the well over a hundred meals I have had with families and friends, I can only think of one meal that was very disappointing. It happened while I was fund-raising in the Mid-West. I believe I was visiting a family in Minnesota and they had invited us to have lunch over their home. After one month on the road, eating at fancy restaurants like McDonalds, Wendy’s or Carvel, I was very happy to accept a home cooked meal. When we sat down to enjoy our meal, I was shocked at what I saw. In front of me was a bowl of cold and plan macaroni with corn and chunks of apple mixed in with it. The mom proudly told me, “Father, we fast every Wednesday and Friday. Welcome to our family lunch.” What a holy woman! Far too holy for me! Once again, I had learned a few good and powerful lessons. First, you are not a master! Second, you are a minister. And finally, simplicity encourages humility.
The Apostles were poor men, and never became rich while serving the Lord. They were poor before they followed Him and became even poorer while following Him. This is the one aspect of their lives that never improved. I enjoy pointing this out to all my protestant friends who are ministers. Christ and his Apostles lived a very simple, humble and lowly life. And yet, they actually lived a very meaningful, exciting and exhilarating life. Although the “Catholic Church” is rich in architecture and art, in music and in culture, in truth and in spirit, the Catholic Church is not monetarily rich. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that the Catholic Church is rich. After two thousand years of existence, percentage wise, Catholics are at the bottom of the list when it comes to generosity in their weekly contributions. And yet, I am honored to be in a very beautiful Church, with a beautiful new translation of the Roman Rite and wearing beautiful vestments. And none of it will ever be sold! After all, they are not mine to sell. They belong to the parish, to the people, to the faithful. And it is a very good thing.
Why was the sabbath made for man? Because we need to rest. But more than that, we need to reflect! God created the world in six days, and then he reflected. Man works in the world for six days and on the seventh, he falls asleep! You see, we rarely ever reflect or meditate! No wonder why we are quick to judge, and judge poorly. On the other hand, humble people do not judge quickly or poorly. They take time to seek what is hidden and not so obvious. We live constantly dependent on outward appearances. The Lord judges not by appearance or from lofty stature but looks into the heart. We need to learn how to do the same.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.