Saturday’s Gospel Reading from Mark (2:23-28; 3:1-5) is the second time we see it over the past few months, the last time we read it on a Saturday was on January 23rd. The Gospel Readings are full of layers and layers of teaching, as we learn one teaching we uncover more. Last time we talked about that the eating by the Holy Apostles of the grains was actually a lawful act and not condemnable as it was permitted by the law of Moses. God allowed it so that the weary travelers would not die from lack of food. But as we just entered this holy period of Lent it would also be fitting to look at another aspect presented in Saturday’s Gospel reading: the helping of the poor.
In today’s Gospel reading our Lord and the Holy Apostles were traveling and teaching the Good news. In doing so our Lord was passing through the villages and the fields of the chosen people of God. When word would reach the people that our Lord was passing by, a great many of the local people would gather around Him. Many desiring to hear His teaching but probably most of them gathered to see first-hand the great miracles which our Lord performed. Of course amongst them there would also follow Him some of the Pharisees and of the Scribes and of the Herodians in the hope of finding something wrong so they could discredit the Lord. As we heard today the Pharisees tried to condemn the Holy Apostles of breaking the law of Moses. But we cannot help asking, with all these people present, all living nearby, so many of them having received and receiving healing of the diseases, not one of them could invite our Lord and His disciples to offer a little food.
God commands us to help the needy and the poor and although the Pharisees knew the commandments of God and failed to practice it. In the Old Testament, in the book of Deuteronomy (15: 7-11) it states that, “the poor will never disappear from your land and for this I order you to open your hand wide to your poor and needy brother.” The Lord and His Disciples were not working, so they depended on being invited to people’s homes to be fed. We see this taking place in several of the Gospel Readings, for example on January 31 this year, Zacchaios Sunday, we read how Christ was a guest in the home of Zacchaios a chief tax collector. Some people did invite the Lord and His Disciples into their homes and fed them. In today’s Gospel Reading, they did not into the Lord into their homes.
So when we obey God and help the poor and the needy we receive untold blessing, both materially and most importantly spiritually. Neglecting the poor and the needy is not to our benefit. On Judgement Sunday, in the Gospel Reading, the Lord is quoted as saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). When we feed those who are poor and needy, it is as if we did it for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Let us imitate Zacchaios and invite the Lord into our hearts by helping the poor, and let us not imitate those who did not feed the Lord in Saturday’s Gospel.
Let us in these days of the Holy Lent, in these days of repentance and contrition, come nearer to God and imitate His goodness by being benevolent to our neighbor. May our Lord bless us in our pursuit for holiness. Amen!