Both Jesus and his opponents believed that the Sabbath should be kept holy. Jesus was always faithful to the worship prescribed by Moses, and so expects his followers to ‘walk as he did’, to worship faithfully and wholeheartedly. Jesus also knew that certain Sabbath obligations should yield to love of my neighbor (rubbing grain to make it edible was considered ‘work’ and so forbidden by the wise of Jesus’ time). He worshipped God, but taught his disciples to love others in need, even if such love means that a Sabbath rule be broken. Such is the importance of love of neighbor, and this is still true today.
God asks for worship and respect, but hopes that one does not refuse help to another because one should not work on Sunday. We cannot underestimate the value of love, for we know its importance for ourselves. So for others as well.
—John Kilgallen, SJ, a Chicago-Detroit province Jesuit, is emeritus professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome.