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.
“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” – moral theologian James Keenan, SJ
Some years ago, I taught religion to sophomores – talk about entering into chaos! In all seriousness, they were curious, energetic, and thoughtful.
In exploring Jesus’ ministry, I asked, “What did Jesus do?”
“He saved people!”
“Ah. But how?”
“Because Jesus is God!”
“Yes… and what kinds of things did Jesus do that saved people?”
Hmm. This was harder to answer.
Today’s Gospel exemplifies how Jesus saves people. He liberates the woman from the spirit which cripples her by entering into her chaos. What did Jesus do for this woman? He SEES her, CALLS to her, SPEAKS to her, TOUCHES her. He does not “save” her from afar – he comes near, close enough to lay his hands on her.
Into what chaos of my life do I need to make room for God to enter?
—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.
O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!