Today’s Gospel focuses on rules, law and grace, or more specifically, Sabbath rules, as Jesus faces the question of whether healing on the Sabbath is lawful. We also meet two people who have a deformity. One, the old bent-up woman, has a physical deformity of the spine that makes it difficult for her to walk or function, but the other, the Synagogue leader has a deformity of the spirit. His rule-bound way of seeing the world, and his need to stay in control, gets in the way of his ability to act with empathy and compassion.
The woman in this story had suffered, barely able to walk for 18 years. She was so desperate for healing, that she walks with difficulty to where she heard the young itinerant rabbi with the reputation for healing might be. She went on the Sabbath, when she knew it was possible he might not help her because of the religious rules. And when she gets there he actually sees her and heals her. Woman, you are set free.
The Synagogue leader sees this healing as a threat, and so he uses his power to discredit Jesus by using a literal interpretation of the Sabbath rules as a weapon. He ignores the benefit to the woman and goes down a literal self-serving interpretation of the law to protect himself. For him, rules take precedence over grace.
But the Gospel story also provides an example of the better way to use power. Today we witness Jesus acting out of compassion for the plight of the crippled woman. Unlike the Synagogue leader, he uses the power of love to help and heal and give life.
In peace, Mother Lynda
Gospel Reading: Luke 13:10-17