24 Oct, Monday of Week 30
Rom 8:12ff. In the Spirit, we are God’s children; he is our “Abba – Father”. We suffer with Christ so as to be glorified with him.
Lk 13:10ff. Jesus cures an arthritic woman on the sabbath; indignation among the leaders but rejoicing for everyone else.
The Spirit of God moves in our hearts and through our lives in very practical ways. Chapter 8 of Romans may be called the “Gospel of the Holy Spirit” and strongly affirms the healing power of God within our lives. In the gospel, Jesus argues from common sense against religious conservatism, for a better application of the Ten Commandments. A devout lay person, without theological education but gifted with integrity and wholesome natural virtue, can speak up for the truth.
The arthritic “badly stooped,” the person tottering step by step, leaning on a cane, lest they collapse to the ground from their bent back – is a too common sight to anyone who has traveled or lived in under-developed countries. They have spent their strength and twisted their bodies out of shape by back-breaking labour in rice fields, transplanting individual young stalks, or at the harvest picking up the stray shoots of rice. They have looked so long at the earth that they physically cannot look up to the heavens. But though bent over, these old folk are spiritually strong. Their words carry an enormous common sense, their decisions cut through idle discussion and questioning. Their calloused hands handle the infant grandchild with delicate care, their weakened eyes still carry a sparkle of pride and peace.
Jesus saw one such woman while teaching on a sabbath day in one of the synagogues. He knew what was proper to do on the sabbath, and could not rest till every man and woman was re-created to the divine image. In the Ten Commandments, according to Exodus, the reason for resting on the sabbath is that after thw work of creation God “rested on the sabbath day” (Exod 20:11); but on this particular sabbath, Jesus could not enjoy his sabbath rest until the work of creation was completed and this woman was remade to the divine image.
At the sight of her, Jesus says a healing word, “Woman, you are free of your illness!” then put his healing hand on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began thanking God. His action was prompted by divine wisdom and his conviction of what the sabbath was supposed to be. When the synagogue ruler became indignant that the healing was on the sabbath, Jesus’ response comes from the impulse of mercy and from the spirit of common sense imbedded in his heart. “You hypocrites. Which of you does not let his ox or ass out of the stall on the sabbath to water it? Should not this woman be released from her shackles on the sabbath?”
In a more theological vein, Paul recognizes the mysterious presence of God’s spirit within humankind: The Spirit makes our spirit aware that we are children of God . In tomorrow’s reading, the text is even more pointed, “The whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the children of God.” Jesus’ words to the stooped woman echo this hope; his healing word calling out to her responds to the hope of the created eagerly awaiting that revelation.
To sum up, grace heightens our awareness of natural goodness and actually builds on it. Our crippled or handicapped neighbours often hold the key to our understanding of God’s revelation in Jesus.
First Reading: Romans 8:12-17
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Gospel: 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 al the wonderful things that he was doing.