The Gospel according to Luke (13:10-17)
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
Reflection: Imagine this poor woman who was crippled and could only look down. Think about how she was probably victimized and certainly ignored. She probably couldn’t work for a day’s wage; therefore, she was homeless and hungry. Think of the perspective this woman had: never able to look anyone in the eye, unable to take her place among any ordinary crowd. She was likely to have been looked down on or overlooked, denied her dignity as a person.
Now imagine this woman when she “stood up straight” once she was healed. Imagine the Joy in her and the appreciation that she had for Jesus. Jesus does not ask us what we can bear, what we are used to or what we can settle for. He wants to restore us to our proper stature to let us see as he sees.
This story is a symbolic image of what grace does to us. When God enters our life, we are able to stand up straight. We are able to walk with a new confidence and dignity. We discover who we are and live freely in His grace. Therefore, we must reach out to our brethren who are bent over and unable to stand, crippled by a spirit, and we can offer healing to them. We can announce the Good News that Christ Jesus sees and knows our burdens and illness.
This reminds me of a story about Carlos. Back in the 80’s I used to coach baseball at Cantwell High School. During practice I would notice this young man probably in his early 20’s who was severely crippled but was mobile. Now Carlos couldn’t speak but he was able to understand. I would see him every afternoon at practice meander his way from the adjacent neighborhood and go thru the hole in the chain-link fence to sit and watch practice. So, every day I would go up to him, fist-pump him, greet him and he would acknowledge with a “grunt”. I could see the joy in him because he was now recognized not only by me but accepted by my team. Then one day I asked Carlos if he understands baseball and He grunted positively. Therefore, I asked him to be the “Bat boy” during practice and his eyes opened with delight. He not only assumed that role, but he also shagged balls, organized the equipment, took it out before and after practice, and other things. I used to keep an eye on him for his safety and one day at practice I noticed he was walking around with a batter’s helmet. That made me chuckle, but I realized that he was in a happy place. It didn’t take Carlos long to become part of the team, therefore we gave him a team hat and jersey that made him feel accepted. All of this probably made him feel good but I realized that Carlos gave me Joy. As I am writing this, I am smiling and now realize how much I miss him.
There are two messages in today’s Gospel:
- Jesus is teaching us to have the compassion to help everyone any day and not to put it off for another day just because it is The Sabbath or your late for work or whatever.
- There are days when we are crippled in our own spiritual ways, and we need to stand upright so we would be able to “Live the Bible” and also to “Live the Joys of the Bible”.
Straighten me up, Lord. Unshackle my heart from crippling connections. Help me to “Stand TALL for Justice”.
Action of the Day: Ask yourself when you were crippled and then ask yourself how you would have handled it today if you had another chance.