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 that 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 around 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. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. (Mark 3:1-6)
The legal scholars and religious-minded Jews were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God. They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God for the Sabbath commandment (remember the Sabbath day – to keep it holy – Exodus 20:8). Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life (Mark 3:3).
To do good and to save life. The heartbeat of Christianity. We all believe that. I know. But do we speak that?
The language of Jesus is one of unity and communion.
In Jesus’s language, success is not victory for some partisan group or political party. Success is not adding to the polarization that so marks our society. Success is finding common ground and promoting the good of all.
The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life, so the truth of Jesus enshrines the dignity of life. Jesus spent his ministry proclaiming good news to the poor and to the outcast, so the world of Jesus is one in which economic policies not only protect the wealth of the successful but also take into consideration the widow, the unemployed, and those without sufficient health care. All should be able to share in the goods of society.
If we speak the language of Jesus, if we hold fast to Jesus’s truth, we show ourselves to belong to Jesus, to accept his world, his kingdom.
We need to revert to the language that we were taught as Christians in Sunday School. The next time that we are engaged in a discussion over booster shots and health and protocols, we should listen patiently to the other person. Even if we don’t disagree, our patient respect will show that we follow Jesus. It is a light of kindness.
As we enter a store, we should make a conscious effort to be gracious to those who work there, placing their well-being on an equal footing with the things we seek to buy. That kindness will testify that we believe in God’s love. It is also a light of gratitude. The next time we meet someone involved in public service, a health-care worker or a teacher, we should express gratitude for the service they provide. That thankfulness will reflect the thankfulness we owe to God, for all the blessings we receive.
In a world where the actions of adults have devolved intro tantrums of children, where fists are threatened instead of words, we are called to a higher standard. Its one of respect, patience, kindness and gratitude.
It’s the language of Jesus Christ.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.”
Jesus was fully aware that the Pharisees and others like them throughout history would be too hardened to grasp the beauty and greatness of his mercy, of the “doing good” that he intended to accomplish by his Passion. Jesus did not for one minute allow himself to be diverted from his journey to Jerusalem. He wants nothing more than for his love to be received. Now is the time to turn our hearts fully to Jesus, to soften them and purify them from all pharisaical attitudes.