The Gospel according to Mark (3:1-6)
Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
Reflection: Today we witness another Sabbath controversy! Mark tells the story brilliantly and makes it easy for us to be there. Try to visualize the scene as people gather for worship in the synagogue, as we would during Sunday Mass. As we become one of them, we see and listen to what they are saying; observe what is happening and can feel the tension. Will Jesus heal the man with the withered hand or not? Who will win the argument: Jesus or the Pharisees? Emotions continue to rise.
Mark doesn’t tell us how Jesus felt towards the man with a disability; he leaves that to our imagination. But he does describe how Jesus felt towards the Pharisees: anger and grief at their hardness of heart. They prefer to observe a legal code than to be touched by the difficulty of a fellow human being. They are callous and uncaring. They do not love their neighbor as themselves. Their values, at least in this instance, are the direct opposite to those of Jesus.
We see in this Gospel story how Jesus had to deal with a lot of opposition to his simple plans to create a more caring and just world for people to live in. If you wish to encounter this aspect of Jesus’ life, you might listen to him express his care for you in an area of your life in which you experience yourself in conflict with others. Dwell with his sensitivity and compassion for you, rather than any advice he might offer you. You might let him say to you, “I know exactly how you feel for I have found myself in exactly the same situation as you are in”.
As I visualize being there with Jesus in this scene, I wonder, what would I have done in regard to the man with the withered hand? Is my heart heartened? Am I rightly angry when people are despised? Do I channel my anger towards healing? The people of power conspired on how they would destroy Jesus. I ask you to be with those who ‘disappear’ because they are a threat to some system of injustice. The anger of Jesus is His passion for life. Can we, ourselves imagine how Jesus wants to brush away whatever it is that holds us back from living fully as he calls us to life and compassion. Jesus, the Pharisees critically watched you and missed seeing what you were really doing.
Action of the Day: Lord, today, we ask that you open our eyes to see all the love you show us, the many ways you do good and save life, but especially how you have redeemed us all. Let us never be hardened by a judgmental attitude. Let us never miss seeing your love because we think too highly of ourselves.