Introduction: in the text of Luke 6:6-11, Jesus causes another controversy among the Jews about the Sabbath day in a synagogue. His stance is clear, as he is moved by compassion towards a man with a withered hand, he puts the person first before any interpretation of the law. Jesus knew that his action would cause him persecution and execution.
- Read: read the text of Luke 6:6-11 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
2. Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
3. Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
4. Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
5. Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: Jesus challenges the way the Jews interpreted and applied the law of the sabbath. According to their customs and traditions, the Sabbath was to be kept holy to honour the work of God, forbidding to do any kind of work. Jesus knowing their legalistic attitude and thoughts put across his position by asking, “is it against the law to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” His compassion shown to the man with the withered hand, Jesus teaches us the way of holiness that is more than keeping the law and performing rituals.
Central Message: “on another Sabbath He went into the synagogue and began to teach…The Scribes and the Pharisees were watching him…hoping to find something to use against him…Is it against the law on the sabbath to do good or to do evil; to save life or to destroy it?
a) “The Scribes and the Pharisees were watching him… hoping to find something to use against him”. The Scribes and the Pharisees have been following Jesus and his disciples observing all they were saying and doing to find something against them. It is certain that they were not interested in people’s needs but who did not keep their traditions and rules. Going to the synagogue there were people from different walks of life and condition, poor and rich, sick and healthy, broken and hurt etc. We wonder what Jesus’ teaching was all about since Luke did not specify it; perhaps we can guess what his teaching was for what he did to the man with a withered hand. He was moved by compassion and care taking the initiative to cure him and give him rest from his pain and misery exactly on the day of rest and in a synagogue. Here it applies to his saying “the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:270. That was the best thing he did not only to make the Sabbath holy but to save the man’s life. In this way, the position of Jesus concerns with the needs of people rather than the interpretations of the law. On the contrary, the Scribes and the Pharisees were only concerned about the law and how to deal with Jesus.
b) “Is it against the law on the sabbath to do good or to do evil; to save life or to destroy it?” Jesus, knowing the legalistic attitude and thinking of the Scribes and Pharisees, teaches them a lesson on compassion and love by curing the man of the withered hand, bringing wholeness to his life. If we look at the way the Scribes and the Pharisees interpreted and manipulated the law, it seemed even evil thinking or double standards. On the one hand, they were zealous keepers of the law and the traditions, and farther more, keeping the Sabbath holy to honour God which was something to be admired for. On the other hand, they were plotting against Jesus, the Son of God, planning how to kill him and forbidding him to save lives on the Sabbath day. They were supposed to represent and preach about God’s goodness and mercy. Where did they leave all that? Why were they acting contrary to their teaching. So, they were not interested in saving lives at any day, at any time, but to destroy them. That is why Jesus asked them “Is it against the law on the sabbath to do good or to do evil; to save life or to destroy it?” Jesus teaches us here that we must pay attention not to fall into the same attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees, having double thinking and living our faith with double standards. Either we are with Jesus, or we are against him.
Some questions for our reflection:
- What lesson can you draw from this text? Ask the Lord to enlighten you about the lives of the Pharisees. What were their bad points? What good was in them?
- In what situation can you see yourself stretching out your hand to empower those around you? When did you miss the opportunity to stretch out your hand to empower others?
- How do you spend Sunday, which is our “Sabbath”? Do you go to Mass because it is an obligation to avoid sin, or to be with God?