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Message from the Clergy


JESUS HEALS ON THE SABBATH


 


The Old Testament established the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. As such there were rules that restricted certain kinds of activities on a Sabbath.  One such rule was one could travel only a prescribed distance from home on a Sabbath yet if a person left something behind, the limit of the day’s journey becomes his “home” and he could travel an equal distance further. Another such rule was, it was all right to spit on rock but not on loose earth as such an act was considered the same as plowing. The rules on Sabbath activity were binding to every Jew of good standing.

In today’s gospel, Jesus heals someone on a Sabbath. He healed a woman who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit which drained her strength. She was badly stooped — quite incapable of standing erect. Because Jesus healed her on a Sabbath, the synagogue chief was scandalized. He emphasized that there were six days to do it and she should have come back some other day as it was Sabbath day.

Jesus called this ruling hypocritical as rabbinical rulings allowed helping one’s ox or ass on a Sabbath. What our Lord revealed to us today is the insensitivity of the early church leaders to human need and their greater concern to comply with custom and rituals. They forgot the whole idea of ministering and caring for one another.

Jesus reminds us that when we implement laws or guidelines within His church and rule out compassion, forget love and mercy, then we not only have misunderstood God’s word and plan but also have distorted it. God’s plan for all is to call everyone to His fold and be One Body not for the sake of the abstract church but for the good of all people. Church and community and the related laws and rituals are secondary to man’s healing and restoration.

This sets forth the kind of attitude and disposition we should have for God’s people not only in terms of ministering to them in community but caring for those outside the walls of community. Visiting the sick and the elderly in a nursing home or serving in a soup kitchen may be quite difficult yet they embody God’s love and mercy. This type of work for the Lord or something close to it should always be an integral part of every community’s work for our Lord. Otherwise, as God’s church, we may become too rigid in our ways when we limit our work to activities which have become part of our community’s regular routine and comfort zone and somehow ruled out corporal works of mercy.

Today, we need to ask how many times have we used the letter of the law in the affairs of our community in disregard of God’s law on compassion and love for neighbor, of our brethren’s giftedness and fruitfulness, of the leading of the Holy Spirit?

from
Rev’d. Fr. Colin Humes





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