Gospel of Luke 13:10-17
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.
Let us Pray: Dear Lord provide us with the strength to not mock those whose deformities’ make them different. Let us be their strength and provide us with the courage to find good in all our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Remember the Blue Laws? Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, and Sunday closing laws, are laws restricting or banning certain activities on specified days, usually Sundays in the western world. The laws were adopted originally for religious reasons, specifically to promote the observance of the Christian day of worship. Now most Blue Laws have gone by the wayside. Christians today tend to treat the matter of holy observance casually. For most Christians today, such observance involves, at best, an hour of public worship each week. Outside that hour, we feel free to engage in work, recreation, and shopping. We might do well to recover a sense of holy time, time to honor God. Being set free from the law does not free us from responsibility. If the ruler of the synagogue erred by being too legalistic about the Sabbath, we are more likely to err by being too casual about the ways and times that we honor God. Today’s world would not have occurred during Jesus time. We have become so accustomed to this Gospel story that we too easily dismiss the honest, if misguided, concerns of the synagogue leader. If this man were a fool or a knave, the story would lose force. But he holds a responsible position and is trying to uphold what he understands to be holy. What he fails to understand is that acts of compassion are holy. Jesus called the leader hypocrite. For Jesus, healing a person is much more important than business activities or household chores which the people usually do on a Sabbath. The leader believes that it is acceptable on the Sabbath to free an animal that has been confined for a few hours but unacceptable to free a woman who has been bound for eighteen years. We should note that the animal would not die if deprived of water for a day. We should also note that it would be possible to provide water prior to the Sabbath and to tie animals so that they have access to it. Water for the animal is no more a life-and-death issue than this woman’s bent back. Nevertheless, this synagogue leader would permit the loosing of an animal on the Sabbath to lessen its discomfort but criticizes Jesus for extending similar compassion to this woman. We all have burdens to bear. In life, there are many circumstances like diseases, loss of job, ruined relationship, that cripple us. Like the woman, let us continue going to church though we are heavily burdened. Let us be comforted with the splendid deed that Jesus did for her. The gospel talks about the fullness of life in Christ. Indeed, God knows everything that we are going through. He is good all the time and His mercy will endure forever, He will give us our freedom. In the meantime, let us offer to Him all our sorrows and pains. Let us be strengthened with the knowledge that His only Son underwent through the greatest pain. Let His resurrection gives us new hope and enough courage to carry on. We are the body of Christ. Let us look out for each member most especially the crippled and bent over. Moreover, let us be bearers of the Good News that Jesus is Lord of every day and that He gives freedom to all of us. Let us pray that we might engage with others in an open and generous way. Let us pray that we might set aside the need to judge and condemn. Let us pray that we might be truly Christ-like in all we say and think and do. And, where there is rejection, let us pray that we might leave the role of judge to God alone. We all struggle to follow the truly Christian way: the way of love, forgiveness, and tolerance.
Let us Pray: Father, for those who are afflicted and in various ways and for all those whom we know who require a blessing – be it physical, emotional, financial, or Spiritual Touch, O God all those who are bent over and oppressed by crippling spirits, and set free all those who are afflicted by attitudes and opinions and viewpoints that cause them and others to become bowed down and to suffer needlessly. Create in them the joy that is meant to be part of the Sabbath day – the day in which we have rest from our labors and celebrate the wholeness that comes from you. This we pray in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.