The Gospel according to Luke (6:6-11)
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
Reflection: Nobody is perfect and even though it hurts to admit it; it’s true and I am referring to myself. Here is a recent example which happened to be this week. While at work and driving in between meetings, I had to (take out a loan) stop for gas. While I was done filling up my tank and getting ready to go, I noticed a man asking other people if they had “jumper cables” but he didn’t ask me. I thought about it, but I was late for my next meeting, and it was 104 degrees that day. I came up with every excuse NOT to assist this man. And as I think about it now, who cares if I was late because I was already late anyway OR who cares if it was hot because I was already hot and sweaty already. Well because I made this impulsive decision, it has really bothered and disturbed me over the past few days. I can’t get it out of my mind and that is my penance for saying no.
In today’s Gospel Jesus defies the rule of the Sabbath and the peer pressure from the Pharisees because Jesus knew that it is much more important to assist His brother with the withered hand. I think about that simple act and how it probably changed that man’s life and possibly his families. I think about other people that were present and observed this act of kindness and thought to themselves that they just witnessed a miracle and a blessing. Therefore, they will assist someone on the Sabbath and every day for that matter. I think about how Jesus could’ve easily done this miracle somewhere else where no one could have seen it. But no, Jesus chose to give a lesson to everyone present. He even publicly said out loud to the man “Come up and stand before us.” Jesus thought it was much more important to give and show this act of kindness and compassionregardless of what their law was.
This passage is disturbing because those who were the religious leaders of the time were clearly only interested in themselves, and Jesus was getting in the way of their self-importance. He was becoming more popular and respected than the scribes and Pharisees and they were filled with envy. Doesn’t that sound so familiar in our society today?
Though this passage is disturbing, it should hopefully become disturbing in a helpful way. It should be an opportunity for each of us to look at our own lives and to examine the relationships we have. Do you see envy present in any of those relationships? Do you see yourself acting and thinking in an irrational way at times towards this person or that? Are you bothered by something you should’ve done but didn’t?
Action of the Day: Let the disturbing part of this scripture motivate you to work toward freedom from envy in your life. So, think about those irrational decisions that you may have done recently and ask God for forgiveness. I know I am.