Colossians 1: 24-2:3
Luke 6: 6-11
In our Gospel today, we see Jesus is caught in a confrontational situation, and he is fully aware of the hostility. In the face of the hostility, he is fearless in his words and actions. The scribes and the Pharisees were zealous for the law, and Jesus, by contrast, was zealous for the essence of the law, which is love and compassion.
Here was a man whose right (dominant?) hand was withered, which would likely have rendered him unable to work and provide for his family. It would also have meant he was shamed and judged, as any form of disability was understood to be a consequence of sin.
Jesus was about giving hope to those who were desperately in need of hope, and he does this for the man in spite of the hostile presence of those who were trying to trap him. I think we can often confuse the wrapping with the essence when it comes to the practice of religion. A question to keep in mind is how do we ensure that our religious practices spring from a good heart rather than simply to conform and be seen to do the right thing? When we become too concerned about conformity, we can lose touch with God’s heart of compassion. In other words, we can put limits on God’s love and compassion.
Conformity can cause an overly zealous concern for external appearances, which can cause our hearts to wither. The invitation of the Gospel today is to stretch out what is withered and allow Jesus to bring life to what is withered in a way that helps us grow. Paul in writing to the Colossians, says: ‘This is how our understanding will come to full development’ and ‘we will know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.’ Paul’s one desire is to bind the community together in love.
A real tangible sign of this love is found in how we relate with others and show compassion in our day-to-day encounters. St Paul of Cross says: ‘Love your brother (and sister) in God. Love God in your brother (and sister). Share with others; be with them in their sufferings, their joys, their hopes. May all creation bring you to love God.’
May we all come to know God’s secret and discover the jewels of wisdom and knowledge within it so that anything which is withered in us can be healed.
Sr. Brigid Murphy CP
Sisters of the Cross & Passion,