When Jesus justifies the actions of His disciples in picking and eating corn on the Sabbath he refers to an event in the Old Testament when David and his army ate the bread that was supposed to be only for the priests because they were hungry and there was nothing else readily available to eat. Laws that are disciplinary in nature, that is they do not pertain directly to the nature or essence of the human person, are always subservient to the good or dignity of the human person. That is, they are not absolute and can be changed if the circumstance requires them to be changed.

 

Jesus uses are rather enigmatic phrase in making His point. He says: “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” This reference to Himself as the Son of Man, that is the person in whom humanity personified, is an affirmation of the dignity of all men and women and the precedence that they as human beings have over disciplinary laws. It all asserts the corollary, namely that disciplinary laws are created to serve human beings and not the other way around. This is important to remember as it can mean the difference between exalting the law over the human person and respecting the dignity of the person.

 

Jesus is always careful to remember that each person has infinite and unique value. No one person is here to merely serve another person; nor group to serve another group. This is what happens when laws take precedence over people. We need to pray often and hard for the lawmakers of our country so that as they do their job they remember that the dignity of the human person is of paramount importance and that the laws they make reflect this truth.

 

Jesus encourages both His disciples and those who challenge their actions to a deeper reflection upon the dignity of the human person and the proper relation between the law and the people. Let us pray that the society in which we live will not forget its duty to protect people from the exploitation of the unscrupulous and will always champion the rights of those who can least defend themselves.

 

Do I respect the absolute dignity of the human person in all my dealings with others? Or do I have a tendency to use the law to my own advantage even if it means not respecting the rights and dignity of others?

 

Lord Jesus, you always defended the poor, the weak and the outcasts of society. You were their voice even if it made you unpopular. Grant me the grace to always respect the dignity and rights of those around me.