A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,
Painting by George Seurat (1859-1891)
Painted in 1884,
Oil on canvas
© Art Institute of Chicago

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,
Painting by George Seurat (1859-1891)
Painted in 1884,
Oil on canvas
© Art Institute of Chicago

Gospel of 20 January 2021

Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good?

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus went into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, 'Stand up out in the middle!' Then he said to them, 'Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?' But they said nothing. Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out and his hand was better. The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.

Reflection on the Painting

All four gospels mention the 'Sabbath' frequently. Jesus, being Jewish, observed the Law and the Sabbath day. It was important to Him. And He tells us that it is important for us believers to set aside a special day to worship God. Christ Himself and, later, His apostles, show the importance of having one day set apart as a day of service for God. 

But the Pharisees and the Scribes had become so strict that they accused Jesus and His disciples of breaking the Sabbath when they did some good. Jesus wanted to rectify this. He reminded them that the Law and the Ten Commandments, instead of providing great restrictions which were punishable, should be seen as forming the very basis of our freedom and joy in our faith, leading to real life. 

I am sharing with you a Seurat painting simply titled 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte'. Painted in 1884, it just shows people enjoying their Sunday afternoon, their day of rest, probably after most of them went to mass earlier that day, celebrating the Eucharist…

'There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us' - Saint John Vianney.

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