Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time(Click here for readings)By KATIE GROSS
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…”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!…
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?”
Forgive me in advance for any information that may be incorrect or any inadvertent heresies I may stumble into (more common than you would think, from my experience in freshman theology). As I have said before on Father’s blog, I am no theologian.
That being said, this Gospel seems to be very timely with regards to current events in our Church.
All I have to do is log into Twitter these days and there are at least thirteen retweeted articles on the Synod on the family. Isn’t it interesting that hundreds of people claim their theology is airtight and better than all others, yet still report radically different interpretations of the synod? (By the way, according to CNN, did you know that the Catholic Church is now going to ordain anyone regardless of gender, age, or species and have no concept of this archaic thing called ‘sin’?) All jokes aside, some of the stuff I have seen circulating is downright disappointing. I am sure that if Jesus had a Twitter, He would be shaking his head.
Many people in the Church have written that they are upset about the findings of the Synod because they believe the Church is losing some of its conservative character. In response, they write out lists of ‘rules’ from the Catechism and Church documents about why things should be stricter and why we should crack down on the ‘rules’ in our parishes.
In a way, I understand their perspective. The teachings of the Church are beautiful and are not something to be taken lightly. We live in an age that is very much hostile to what the Church teaches, and as such, we are called to defend these teachings. But then remains the question: how should we go about defending what the Church teaches? How “strict” should we be?
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath…. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” Sometimes it seems that some have forgotten about what lies at the heart of our faith: mercy. Jesus constantly was reaching out to those who were on the outskirts of society—criminals, tax collectors, lepers—everyone that society viewed as “unclean” were precisely the people that Jesus spent his life on earth reaching out to. After all, doctors in a hospital tend to the most critical patients first, don’t they? Jesus is our spiritual healer. He is still reaching out to those who are seemingly the farthest away from Him. That means everybody who is far away from Him—even those whose lives are in the center of the controversy.
He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. When God truly frees a person, that person usually spends their life thanking Him for it. Imagine if the early Church had written off St. Augustine for being a wretched sinner. Talk about someone with a misconception about the family—he had multiple mistresses and even a son out of wedlock! But this is why his writings are so rich—he writes as one thanking God from the bottom of his heart for his salvation. Just read his famous passage beginning “late have I loved you,” referring to the beauties of the Church he once denied, and you will understand. Without sinners, we would be missing a lot of the rich tradition of our Church. Ironically, this same tradition is sometimes used by Catholics in order to condemn others.
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.” I would venture to say that we are quick to condemn because we do not trust in the mercy of God. We do not believe that prayer can change hearts. We do not believe that the good example of one person can change the way another lives their life. We see the corruption of once beautiful things in the world around us and we say, “This cannot be fixed. This is beyond redemption.” We forget that God gives grace when and where He wills. We lock ourselves behind the rules, trying to keep our hands clean of the nonsense we see in the world.
We need to go out and make a mess! We don’t have to disregard the teachings of the Church. In fact, we shouldn’t, especially in matters so crucial as marriage and the family. But at the same time, we must recognize that God works in ways that we cannot possibly understand. We cannot reduce God solely to a set of rules that must be followed. He knows what is best for each one of His children who seek him in good will, and He will work in their lives in whatever way He wills. That is the reality of this Gospel reading. That is our faith.
One of the articles that popped up on my Twitter feed the other day was very good, and demonstrated this point well. It was not explicitly about the Synod, but comments on how people in serious sin sometimes “stumble” towards God and He receives them, even if the person is ignorant of Church teaching. The author was an atheist, and is now a Daughter of St. Paul (go figure!) You can find the article here:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pursuedbytruth/2014/10/atheist-in-the-communion-line-a-follow-up-post.html