Only two people speak in the seven verses of today’s gospel. The location is a Galilean synagogue. Jesus was teaching. He called a woman over to him who had suffered the inconvenience, pain and embarrassment of being ‘bent over’. We do not know her name. We only know that she had suffered this affliction for 18 years! We also know she was in the synagogue. She had not lost faith or hope!
Jesus laid his hands on her and assured her that her infirmity was gone. Immediately she ‘straightened up’ and glorified God.
That was the point of being in the synagogue!
The second voice is that of the synagogue official. He was a layman responsible for organising services and maintaining the building. He was angry that this woman had been cured. Obviously, unlike the woman herself, he was unable to make the connection between praising God and her healing. He also did not understand the true purpose of the sabbath was to give praise than thanks to God.
He was stuck in a legalistic mind that demanded healings should take place on any day other than the Sabbath and he made sure those in the synagogue knew his point of view. Rather than make a personal attack against the man, Jesus called out “Hypocrites”. He knew the men there would look after their ox or donkey on the sabbath, so why could they not give thanks that this daughter of Abraham (to rub it in) had been released from eighteen years of bondage.
Sadly, compassion has often been replaced by rigid application of laws, despite Jesus’ clear actions and words that call for compassion to be the hallmark of a follower of Jesus. Let us rejoice and give thanks wherever goodness shows its face.
Brian Traynor CP has been involved in faith formation for many years especially in the form of parish missions and through the Passionist Family Group Movement. Brian is a member of the Passionist community at Holy Cross, Templestowe.