Tag Archives: Sabbath

Healer of Withered Hearts

      The Gospel for this Wednesday, January 18th, once again reminds me of our purpose as a church, to bring the healing power of God’s love to each other and to this wounded world, as soon as possible, without delay or excuse:

     “Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if He would cure him on the sabbath so they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come up here before us.’ Then He said to the Pharisees, ‘ Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it? ‘ But they remained silent. Looking at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, ‘ Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was restored.” (Mk 3: 1-5)

     With all eyes upon Him Jesus took the opportunity to challenge,teach, and also to heal. Once again Jesus was breaking the rules of His Jewish religion, putting His own life at risk to show us how to live in the Kingdom.

     His challenge : paraphrasing the words of Pope Francis, are we, the Church, an empty museum for “saints”, or are we called to be “a field hospital” for the wounded, the lost, the withered, the sinner? We have many rules that damn the divorced, the gay person, the addict, the non-believer. Can we begin by welcoming, in our hearts and lives, those outsiders, the errant ones, hungry for the meaning in their lives that Jesus can most certainly provide? I don’t know that Jesus will turn them away because “it’s the sabbath “, or for any other reason. Maybe neither should we.

     His lesson: the time to accept and heal is now, today, with everyone we meet. Let us truly stop and see our brothers and sisters. Let us show interest, empathy, love. Let us risk our own lives and dare to reach out to the ones who might not even trust us. Let us risk criticism or rejection for the sake of love of neighbor.

     The healing: with every little act of mercy for others, the love of Christ reaches within our own withered hearts, and heals us as it changes us. With these hearts open to Jesus, let us accept His light, to change our hardened hearts into hearts of flesh and blood, sources of love to the world.

     Our Lord gave His life for us. May we give our lives to Him, and to the healing of His people.

     Orlando Hernandez

Wednesday, 4th Week of Lent

Lent 1
READINGS
In today’s reading from John’s gospel, the cure of the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethsaida sets off criticism of Jesus by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jewish leaders before them had questioned an absolute proscription of Sabbath work; after all, God maintained creation on the Sabbath, babies were born, people died, God passed judgment on that day.

But now the leaders’ criticism is based on a greater charge– Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. He said he continued his Father’s work; he had power over life and death; he will judge the living and the dead. These are divine powers.

“Who do you say I am?” is a question Jesus asked then and he asks us now. John’s gospel will give answers to that question in the readings that follow for the remainder of this week and into Holy Week.

“Who do you say I am?” is an important question we must answer when we look at the One who dies on the cross. In our public prayers we say:
“He is the Word of God, through whom you made the universe,
the Savior you sent to redeem us…
For our sake he opened his arms on the cross,
He put an end to death,
And revealed the resurrection…” (Eucharistic Prayer 2)

Our personal prayer too rests on this powerful belief. “ Often turn to our holy faith and let it lead you into the bosom and the arms of God. You’ll be blessed if you faithfully follow my advice. When affliction lays heavy on you, you can go to your room, take the crucifix in your hands and give yourself a sermon from it. What a sermon you will hear! How quickly your heart will be calmed.” (Letter 1464)

Lord Jesus,
I believe you are God’s Son,
true God from true God,
I believe you have come to save us.

Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus and his opponents often clash over the Sabbath, as they do in today’s reading from Luke’s gospel.(Luke 6,1-5) Jesus’ disciples take some grain as they walk through the fields in Galilee. “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” some Pharisees ask. All four gospels cite incidents like this. The question of the Sabbath was raised repeatedly in Jesus’ ministry.

We may think the question is about a Jewish law, but it’s really about God. How would God act if someone was hungry, or thirsty, or in need? That’s not a bad question to ask ourselves as we look out into our world. What would God do for the people we see in need? How would God look at those who belong to a different race or culture or nationality than we do? How would God act towards those who harm others or live unjust lives?

The Sabbath is God’s day, a day to remember who he is and what he has done. It’s not a day that restricts how we live, but a day that expands our vision to God’s vision. It’s a day to help us live other days of our lives. On the Sabbath, God gives us hope.

No wonder Jesus spoke of himself as “Lord of the Sabbath,” for he reveals the God we want to know. Too bad so many think of him as someone who restricts the way we live. It’s just the opposite. He teaches how live and offers a hope beyond any we could conceive.