The Gospel Today
Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
Reflection (Sem. Ernesto Sican):
The encounter between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees presents to us two opposing views with regard to the implementation of the law. The Pharisees would stress the letters of the law which means they have to follow strictly what the law prescribes. Thus they become too rigid and critical of those who violate the law. Jesus on the other hand would stress the ethos or the spirit of the law. The law is made for man and not otherwise. The law is there to help man achieve his end and not to be a burden to him. The law is there to safeguard the good of man and to make him free. Thus the exercise of the law makes a person loving, compassionate and sensitive towards the other.
Another aspect of the encounter which I believe is also important is with regard to the intention. The Pharisees watched Jesus intently because they wanted to accuse Him for violating the Sabbath law. Their intention is to put down the person. Jesus on his part is after the healing of the sick man. It is not a question of being lawful or not but being able to help the person, being able to do what is good and necessary. Thus Jesus met a lot of oppositions.
Sometimes there are oppositions in our attempt to do what is good and beneficial for others. The Gospel would remind us not to lose heart in the midst of criticisms if we truly believe that we are doing the will of God and we are after for the greater good. As long as we are serving the Lord, our Master, we can withstand whatever difficulties that may come along the way. So do not be afraid and even get tired of doing what is good for in due time God will reward your labor.