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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Healing on the Sabbath

"Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out and his hand was restored." Mk 3:4-5

The loss of a limb, even for a brief period of time, is a heavy burden. A friend had surgery on his hand a couple of weeks ago and found himself answering a dozen questions from caring people and accepting help from strangers. Knowing that people really wanted to help did not make it any easier.

Imagine what it must have been like for the man with the withered hand. Ignored by most and pitied by others, Jesus reaches out in compassion for him, but the Pharisees, looking not at the man's need but his sin or the sin of his parents, want Jesus not to heal on the Sabbath. Any reasonable person, especially those unfamiliar with the narrow interpretations of the law by the Pharisees, knows to respond to those in need even on the Sabbath. It is clear that the man with the withered hand is not the concern of the Pharisees, Jesus is, and the Pharisees want to undermine his growing power.

While it can be difficult to understand any religious leaders who hesitate to help those in need, all of us understand the desire not to let our "enemies" get the upper hand.  Unfortunately, too often we allow governments and churches to use almost any means to protect us from those who threaten our power, influence and or financial stability. This is not the way of Jesus and cannot be ours. Only when we make the most vulnerable our primary concern will we know and live the Gospel with power and compassion.

Today, ask God to free you from any fears that inhibit your response to the most needy.

Do you make excuses to condemn others who make you uncomfortable?

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