1 Corinthians 5:1-8
The scene in our Gospel today takes place in a synagogue one Sabbath, where Jesus notices a man with a withered hand. Also present are a group of scribes and Pharisees, and they are watching him – not because they are evil, nasty men – they are pious men. What they are thinking is: “If Jesus were truly a man of God, he would keep God’s commandments.” One of the commandments was, ‘thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath day,’ which for them meant, ‘you shall do no work on the Sabbath day.’ Healing had been defined as work. So if Jesus heals this man, he is breaking God’s commandment and cannot be from God. There are 6 days in the week when Jesus can heal the man. Why does he have to heal him on the Sabbath day, when it is prohibited by God!
So they aren’t evil, nasty men, but pious, religious men. But you know what they have not seen? The man! They don’t care if he has had a withered hand for all of his life or if he has one for the rest of his life. All they care about is the law. So Jesus tries to get them to see the man by asking them, “What does the Sabbath law allow – to do good or to do evil? To save life or to kill?” But he can see he will make no impression on them, so he heals the man anyway. We are told that immediately the scribes and Pharisees left the synagogue and planned to destroy him. This is how evil is done in the name of God and religion.
Fr. Ray Sanchez CP is the leader of the Oxley community and responsible for Parish Missions and Retreats throughout Australia and NZ.