There is such a contrast today between Jesus, whose life “cannot be destroyed”, who would rather “save life than destroy it”, and the Pharisees who are taking counsel with the Herodians to put him to death. The Herodians were the servants of King Herod, a man whose life consisted of parties and submitting to the Roman conquerors. He and the Herodians are the natural enemies of the Pharisees who are trying to be faithful to the Jewish Law. The only characteristic that these two opposing groups have in common is extraordinary selfishness.
It is so strange to read that their first tactic was to “watch Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath”, like a store security guard watch potential shoplifters, as if Jesus might try to sneak in a healing without being noticed. These Pharisees have hardened their hearts. They refuse to be open to the teaching of Jesus. When he asks them a difficult question, they do not even try and answer.
If we want to understand their position, we could look to the answer given by another at a similar time: “there are six days for healing, come then.” Why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath when he could have simply healed on the next day? Jesus is teaching us not only that healing is permitted on the Sabbath, but that healing is the very thing to do on the Sabbath. The Sabbath should be spent doing good rather than evil, saving life rather than destroying it.
We who are followers of Jesus Christ ought to take this teaching to heart. Our Sabbath must not consist of resting and relaxing ourselves. Sunday is not a day for more selfish indulgence. We should follow Jesus and do good on Sunday, not evil. Sunday ought to be a day where we live life to its fullest, live life as we would if we needed nothing. In a perfect Christian culture, we would spend six days working when we needed and resting when we could, but on the first day of the week we would make provision for the poor and the sick and the lonely, we would go to Mass and pray, we would celebrate with family in a simple way, we would, in short, be completely unselfish. We do not live in this perfect culture, but what is preventing us from beginning?