11 September
Lk 6:6-11

Jesus entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Your hands are your power to do things.  To make it even clearer, Luke tells us that it was the man’s right hand.  St Ambrose saw great significance in these words of Jesus, “stretch out your hand.”  “Hold it out often,” he advised.  “Hold it out to the poor person who begs you. Hold it out to help your neighbour, to give protection to a widow, to snatch from harm one whom you see subjected to unjust insult.  Hold it out to God for your sins.  The hand is stretched forth; then it is healed. Jeroboam’s hand withered when he sacrificed to idols; then it stretched out when he entreated God” (1 Kings 13:4-6).

This man’s paralysed hand symbolised his lack of power.   Jesus wanted to restore it to him.  There was an objection from the Pharisees.  He was breaking their rules by healing on the sabbath; their position (their power) was being threatened.  There are many like them, whose position and power depend on others remaining powerless.  This kind of power always has an agenda: it is power over or against others.  It is a jockeying for position and privilege; fundamentally it is aggression.  This kind of power exists wherever there are people who have not been converted to the Gospel; it exists in society, it exists in the Church.  The test of power is whether it is for oneself or for others. 



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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