Pondering for Sunday, August 21, 2022

New Testament Eucharistic Readings for Sunday of Proper 16: Year C

Hebrews 12:18-29 and Luke 13:10-17 

 “When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” (Luke 13:12)

This is not a new situation for Jesus who continually tells them, and us, that the Sabbath is made for us, not us for the Sabbath.  God brought us into the world without Sabbaths and then saw that we needed down-time in order to put things in perspective, to ponder, and to be thankful.

But this action from Jesus in healing the crippled woman, is far more than just a simple healing; it is a metaphor of what Jesus is doing for all humanity. It shows that God is teaching love to all people while at the same time, keeping Sabbaths as commanded. Jesus continues in this formula. “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.”  (Luke 13:10) This is a time of gathering so as to learn about God and how God wants us to live with one another. If it wasn’t the Sabbath the crippled woman might not have been there in the first place. He noticed her and responded to her need. And as the situation would have it, an unexpected opportunity appears. We read, “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,” (Luke 13:11). This woman represents all who are made cripple by spiritual weakness. 

“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”” (Luke 13:12) Jesus makes the pronouncement, the Word says the word.  That, that was holding her,  was no longer in power. She is set free. But after eighteen years one does not just jump up and down in exaltation.  The body is not ready for that. It needs healing hands. So, is was “When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.” (Luke 13:13)  St Francis of Assisi said go out and preach the Gospel and when necessary use words.  Do you think this healed woman, by just walking around joyfully and praising God, is preaching the Gospel?  I do.

Meanwhile, back at hater ranch, “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,”” (Luke 13:14).  This leader of the synagogue could not heal like this on any day. Why then deny anybody healing no matter what day it is?  But the light is brought to bear on his hypocrisy as Jesus questions what any rational person would do no matter the day of the week it happens to be.  Jesus’ words were pleasing to the people “and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing,” (Luke 13:17).  We must remember that our time of respite is foreordained by God for our mutual benefit and personal healing – and for whatever good we can bring about for others.

As we walk along joyfully let us keep the spiritually challenged people of Ukraine in our prayers. 

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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