Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.
He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In today’s gospel we are called to consider what is really important in our lives. Jesus asks the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath . . . to save life rather than to destroy it?” I respond immediately, “of course.” In fact just two verses before this morning’s gospel, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” It’s so easy, isn’t it?
But then I look at my own life and see many instances when I hold to what seems like a very important principle or rule that justifies far less than reaching out with love to those people God puts in my life and to those on the margins. I often remain silent, if not outright defiant, in the face of the question Jesus poses, just as the Pharisees did. Isn’t this the same question Pope Francis has wonderfully posed to us and to the world in so many ways this past year?
I am encouraged though, because the gospel goes on to say Jesus “grieved at their hardness of heart.” Jesus’ invitation to love and to be loved is always present in my life, even at my worst moments. God’s grace enables me to not only say, but to live my life, answering “of course!”
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
The Church asks us to pray for the legal protection of unborn children today. Jesus’ question in today’s gospel is very appropriate, “Is it lawful… to save life rather than to destroy it?” Let’s pray to Mary for all mothers and unborn children:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To you we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer us. Amen
—Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!