Good News for the Day, January 17, 2018
Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time (313)
When Jesus entered the synagogue, a man was there with a disabled hand. They watched Jesus closely to see whether he would—on the Sabbath—cure him, just so that they could accuse him. To the man with the disabled hand Jesus said, “Come up here in front of us.” Then he addressed the Pharisees, “Is it legal to do something good on the sabbath rather than to do something bad—to save a life rather than to destroy it?” But they stay quiet. Looking around at them annoyed and troubled at their hardness of heart, Jesus spoke to the man, “Put your hand out.” He stretched it out—and his hand was restored! The Pharisees left—and right away they started talking with the political party of the Herod-followers, in a hostile way—about how to put him to death. ( Mark 3)
“Is it legal to do something good…?” Putting ourselves into the congregation, we notice that the Pharisees are the legal experts, the ones who both know the law and how to apply it. We can go along in silence—or listen to the conversation.
The individual with the “bad” hand is of course ritually “sinful,” a condition that separates him from the rest of the people. Jesus acknowledges that separation, and invites him away from his exclusion to the front—so already Jesus is showing a brave defiance of rules. Instinctively, you and I might admire that bravery, but judge it a mistake, a breaking of the law.
And right here is the decision to be made—whether to let the instinct of obedience and conformity override the deeper judgment of love and healing.
But perhaps it is deeper; perhaps we need to join Jesus as the one with the instinct to heal and help—to be of help, no matter what the weight of society. Perhaps having the spirit of Jesus—the love of neighbor, the caring character, the courage to be kind, useful and—ultimately—beneficial—perhaps THAT is where you and I belong.
Our instinct, as a follower committed to the Way Jesus calls us, gradually needs to grow into the courage and initiative to focus on people in need—rather than on people in power. You spirit is your instinctive self, your way of seeing the world. So often we sacrifice that attention to those in need so that we can—cautiously, cautiously—follow the rules in the safety of silence. It is hard to be brave. It is hard to defy—however respectfully—the weight of law, the wisdom of the learned, the power of the people in power. But that is the Call You Have.