Plucking Grain on the Sabbath
Reflection on the Gospel of the Friday
In today’s gospel Jesus draws on the parallels between 1 Sam 21:1-6 and his own situation. As David’s companions were hungry, so were the disciples of Jesus. As David was heir to the united kingdom of Israel, so Jesus is the son of David. He thus implies that if his disciples have broken the law, then David himself would stand guilty-a conclusion nowhere suggested in the Old Testament. If they allowed David to break a Divine prohibition of a mere ceremonial affair in favour of bodily necessity, why should they not allow it to his disciples?
The priests laboured in the temple on the Sabbath; they prepared sacrifices, they lighted lamps; and yet because these were part of the temple service, they were not considered as violating the Sabbath law. The same principle should apply in this situation, given that ‘someone greater than the temple is here’. The demands of mercy or compassion (in this case, satisfying hunger) take priority over cultic activity. God desires mercy and not sacrifice.