30 October
Lk 13:10-17

Jesus 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.

“He was teaching in a synagogue.”  This is the last time in Luke that Jesus appears in a synagogue; the rift between him and the authorities is growing wider.  They were for law, he was for mercy.  The difference was focused poignantly in the figure of the old woman crippled for eighteen years.  Jesus healed her, though this constituted breaking the sabbath, according to the interpretation of the scribes and Pharisees.  They looked and saw only a breach of rules; Jesus looked and saw God's mercy meeting human misery.  Jesus was a formidable opponent: he pointed out their inconsistency in allowing people to come to the aid of an animal on the sabbath but not to the aid of a human being.  People don’t like been shown up in such an unflattering light, and it goes some way towards explaining their implacable hatred of him.  He was not just showing another way, he was undermining theirs. 

Theirs was a narrow legalistic version of the great Jewish faith; it was a thing of the mind alone, with no heart in it.  What strikes you is the absence of joy: they were unable to feel any joy at the old woman’s healing.  Religion without joy is hollow and shows itself to be a product of the ego.  The ego knows selfish gratification, but not joy.  Joy is an expansion of the heart: to experience joy is to lose oneself – ultimately in God.  Luke records that Jesus was filled with joy (10:21), and so were his disciples (Acts 13:52).  In each case he says it is joy in the Holy Spirit.  Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, mentioned next to love by Paul (Galatians 5:22).  Between the religion of the ego and the religion of Jesus there is a chasm that can only be crossed in one giant leap (you cannot cross a chasm in two short leaps).  It is a leap of joy in the Holy Spirit. 



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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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