This gospel lesson can be simply taught—there is a day of the week on which we all should rest but cannot ignore the demands (healing, helping) just because “law” tells us to rest. But, is there another side to this lesson? Do we all have the luxury to “rest” on the Sabbath? An even deeper assessment is whether the rules we establish (to participate, to commit, to enjoy) are actually barriers to those who have the greatest need. So, re-read the gospel with somewhat contemporary “new” eyes. Post your thoughts on our website or, better yet, join our Facebook group (bottom of page).
Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
From sermon4kids.com: “Rules are good, but people are more important. We should remember that the next time we start to get all bent out of shape when someone bends the rules a little bit to help someone who is in need.”
Collect: Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: The writer of Hebrews says that God is a “consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). Why is this good news?
Ear Worm: “O for a thousand tongues to sing“, congregational hymn (continue listening to hear a vibrant different version): “We cannot measure how you heal“, happy congregational hymn; “Healer of our every ill” by Marty Haugen (cover image looks like another song)
“Rosie” (2018), “about a suddenly homeless family”; “Gandhi” (1982), older movie but moving story of India’s great ethical leader; “The Hunting Ground” (2018), a hard film “about treatment of sexually assaulted women”
Image: “Jesus heals woman on the Sabbath” by James Tissot
We may find ourselves in situations as polarized as this one is. What are some strategies we can share with each other for balancing the need to follow rules we believe came from God with compassion we believe God has put in us? What do we do when we have listened carefully to each other and still disagree? How do we manage the tension of being in fellowship with someone we disagree with? What would happen to the dialog if we were able to see the face of Jesus in each person at each end of the continuum?
In today’s reading from the gospel of Luke, Jesus heals a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years. A rigid religious leader complains that Jesus, in healing her on the Sabbath, is breaking the Commandments. Jesus replied that if the Commandments allow one to untie livestock on the Sabbath so that they can get water, we certainly could unbind human beings who are tied to illness on the Sabbath. Jesus is showing that the law of God is for human and humane purposes and not simply a rigid rule used to beat down others.
Today’s first reading is from Isaiah. The prophet brings God’s word that true piety and religion is to free those who are bound, and to care for the poor and the afflicted. It is that sort of ministry to others that will bring us the blessings of God.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that we are no longer merely part of this world that is passing away. We are part of the divine life and of the ongoing sweep of God’s story of salvation. Though we live in this world, we are part of that unseen kingdom that is eternal.
We gather in the Eucharist as a community of faith, which transcends time and space: an eternal family whose life and joy is the result of placing God before all things. The Eucharist is a foretaste of the heavenly feast but it is not the feast itself. We are called to persevere in the faith that will lead us to feast at God’s table in the kingdom that is coming.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.