Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Come up here before us." - Mark 3:3

Jesus used the man with the withered hand as a teaching instrument, and as a statement about the importance of doing good, even if that means the letter of the law has to be overlooked.  It is clear that his compassion for the man with the withered hand is given with a conviction that would be difficult to copy.  According to the Pharisees, what Jesus did was wrong.  The healing should not have taken place on the Sabbath.  Still, Jesus would not allow that fact to stop him. 

What can we learn from this event?  In a time in which the Church seems to be more concerned about keeping its reputation clean after all the scandals that have taken place, we sometimes overlook the broken, the people with withered hands, shattered homes, and empty pantries.  We are afraid to break beyond the security of the old ways of doing things.  We place our lives within the mirage that says we should just go back to the time when the law was the law, and we didn't have to worry about the slippery slope getting steeper all the time. 

Jesus' adversaries were threatened by the risk of compassion on the day of Sabbath, they were looking for reasons to silence him from the very start of his ministry.  Compassion is always a risk because it means investing something of ourselves, and those who see it often find that they look worse in comparison to those who are kind.  But how can we, who share in the divinity of Christ, ever feel it is right to overlook the opportunities to show compassion in a world so full of pain?  How is possible that we, who are called to live as the mystical body of Christ in the world, should feel our reputation is more important than service to those who need our compassion?

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