Freedom to Choose to Obey

Freedom to Choose to Obey September 1, 2022

The Good News for the Day, September 3, 2022
Saturday of the Twenty-second Week of Ordinary Time (436)

One Sabbath, while Jesus was passing through a field ripe with grain, his followers started plucking heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.

Some Pharisees questioned this—and him, “Why are you doing on the Sabbath something that’s not legal?”

Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and the guerilla fighters with him were hungry? How he went into the very house of God, took the special bread of offering—reserved so that only the priests could lawfully eat it. He himself ate some of it, and shared it with his men?”

He concluded, “This Human Child is in charge of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6)

Rarely do I – and most of us – obey the speed limit on interstate highways in our country. On the one hand we consider that we are going a safe speed. On the other hand we figure if we do not go too much faster, the police will not stop us. We are using the speed limit as a guideline, and, understanding its function, we feel confident we will not cause an accident.

This civil and secular behavior enables us to understand how Jesus can speak of himself as “Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus understands all good laws – civil as well as religious – are derived from God’s love of our lives – keeping us alive. A bad law thwarts that intent, serves to increase hostility, and destroy love.

Lawmakers intend to make laws they believe will benefit the community. Sometimes they are mistaken, of course, but that intent rises from their faith in themselves and the responsibility.

You and I live under many laws – some religious, some national or local, some unspoken social or economic, and still others self-imposed.

Followers of Jesus realize that someone who belongs to the kingdom of God accepts a responsibility. That responsibility checks the intent and effect of the law. You check whether God’s love is the source of a law. And you examine whether a law benefits life and love in the community. Finally, you decide whether the legal justice it puts into words reflects the deeper justice and love of God and serves the common good.

In the end, followers of Jesus appreciate that a person is always free to obey a law or not. That freedom comes from God. You sift with that freedom every human directive for the backbone of God’s love within it. No matter what authority – civil, coercive, religious, family, or society – if the law itself lacks at its core the love of God, you are free to disobey it. If the law, furthermore, contradicts the love of our Creator and our neighbor, perhaps you are obliged to disobey it by the higher law of God.

As a follower of Jesus, you can be – you ARE, “Lord of the Sabbath.” Tuned into the love of God, you share His dignity and responsibility as a child of God. Today’s Good News gives you authority and responsibility because you belong to God’s family.

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