October 26, 2020
Lk 13: 10-17
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”
When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Loved without limitations
In today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus once again offers us a mix of compassion for the suffering of others and impatience with the hypocrisy of church leaders of his day, who were unable to notice the presence of the divine at work right before them. Instead, they focused only on the perceived violation of Sabbath requirements.
In healing the woman so painfully crippled, he not only relieved her suffering, but he restored her to wholeness as a person and as a full member of her community. So often in these accounts of healings, the sufferer was not only struggling with blindness, illnesses such as leprosy, or mental health problems, but they were also pushed away from contact with their families and friends—partly out of a legitimate fear of infection, but also because of a sense that they had sinned and were being punished by God.
In his own actions, and in his accounts of a surprising “Abba,” Jesus introduces us again and again to a God whose compassion overflows our expectations and human-imposed limitations—who doesn’t seem to count up our flaws before deciding whether to love us without conditions or limits. Seems too good to be true.
—Tom Reynolds is the Higher Education Assistant for the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province.
In the First Week, or movement of his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius wants us to re-encounter this unexpected image of ultimate love and compassion, one we may have resisted by thinking that we don’t measure up. Spend some time in prayer today with this “surprising” God, who wants only to restore us to wholeness, to restore us to ourselves.
And for those in the United States, I encourage you to please vote in the coming week if you have not done so already. Vote with the hopes you have for the compassion needed by our human family in this nation and the world.
THE POPE'S PRAYERS
The examen is a prayer popularized by St. Ignatius Loyola that helps us to recognize the ways that God is present and active in our daily lives. Click on one of the following recordings made by current and graduated Prep students to be guided through the examen and see how God has been present in your life today! If you use an i-phone, make sure your mute switch is turned off to listen to the recording.
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