Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
(Colossians 1:24-2:3; Luke 6:6-11)
Sabbath rest has always been a priority on the agenda of organized labor. One hundred years ago the issue was mostly religious. A worker should have Sundays free to go to church. Now the question is more of limiting the number of workdays so that the worker may take advantage of a weekend. In today’s gospel the scribes and Pharisees show a concern about the Sabbath goes beyond either of these motives.
The supposedly holy men want to attack Jesus, not to assure legitimate rest for workers. Jesus is well aware of the Sabbath principle but appeals to its higher purpose. The Sabbath is also for doing good works not evil ones. In other words, on the Sabbath the people should praise God and wish one another well. The Pharisees defy this principle by seeking to accuse Jesus of a crime. On the other hand, Jesus is using the occasion to heal a man who is pathetically deformed.
Today, Labor Day in the United States, provides an occasion to reflect on human work. Similar issues to the ones raised in the gospel may be examined. We need to work in order to live, but we do not want work to dominate our lives with no time for family and worship. We want our work to benefit others as well as ourselves and to cause no one injury.