October 26, 2020, Monday of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time
Scripture: Luke 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.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
“‘. . . you are set free . . .“
Today’s Gospel tells about a spontaneous miracle that takes place on the Sabbath. Usually, when Jesus healed someone, he asked for some sort of manifestation of faith —- not so much a statement of belief, but one of trust. Today’s Gospel of a miracle on the Sabbath has none of that. It seems as though Jesus simply turns his attention toward a long-suffering woman and tells her, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” Pointedly ignoring Jesus, the local official then chides the crowds for seek healing on the Lord’s day, telling them to come back during the work week. That’s a hint that the cripple woman didn’t just “happen” to be there; she has come for a healing. In other words, she has faith (at least the desire of trust), even if she doesn’t verbally say, “Lord, I believe.”
For his part, Jesus seems to have been deliberately provocative, working this miracle on the Sabbath, when all work is forbidden. After the official’s reproof, Jesus even gives a bit of a sermon. He says that just as every one of the worshipers there that day would feed and water their farm animals on the Sabbath, there is no reason to deny life and health to people in their suffering. Even more, the Sabbath was made for just that purpose! It is a day of freedom for household servants, slaves, and even animals. No wonder Jesus doesn’t use the language of a cure, but of freedom. “You are set free.”
How much I need the freedom of Sabbath days and moments, Lord! These are the sacred times in which we who were made in your image and likeness may rest from our labors. Restore me here and now in the place that most needs your presence. Receive may burden, and exchange it for your yoke, which is easy, and your burden, which is light . . . because you share it with me. That communion with you is my Sabbath rest.
“For freedom Christ set us free” (Gal. 5:1).