Monday, October 26, 2015

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

The world is full of fools and faint hearts; and yet everyone has courage enough to bear the misfortunes, and wisdom enough to manage the affairs, of his neighbor. ~Benjamin Franklin: (1705 – 1790: Was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America)
Gospel Text: (Lk 13:10-17)
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

I would like to center this commentary upon the leader of the synagogue’s attitude in today’s gospel text. I have always been surprised at how, before an evident miracle, there is always someone who is able to close his eyes in such a way that he remains totally unconcerned. Had he not seen what happened or what it means, it would be the same.

This attitude of the religious authorities of Jesus’ time caused them to live a rigorous religious experience, shutting down their god within strict limits. They manufactured a custom-made god, which they did not let into their lives. In the practice of their faith they believed all was well provided they stayed within certain rules. We can, thus, understand Jesus' reaction: «You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath and leads it out of the barn to give it water?» (Lk 13:15). Jesus uncovers the absurdity of this incorrect interpretation of what “Keeping the Sabbath” means and thus reveals the lesson which we all should contemplate when we place the love of “keeping the rules” ahead of the love of God and neighbor.

God's words today should help us to examine our own religious experience and to find out whether the practices we use actually bring us into communication with God and our neighbor.

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