“The scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him.” (Luke 6:7)
There is a story of a housemaid who while cleaning the sitting room one day mistakenly broke an expensive piece of art. She almost lost her job in the process but for the timely intervention of her parents who pleaded for a second chance. The owner of the house then gave her a strict warning never to touch anything in the sitting room again. This was a law she was determined to keep.
One day, the housemaid was home alone when she noticed the smell of smoke emanating from a faulty extension box beside the television in the sitting room. But instead of going there to disconnect it, she was bent on obeying the law given to her. She continued her duty in the kitchen while the entire electronic devices in the sitting room caught fire. Could this be our attitude to the commandments of God?
In today’s Gospel passage, we see how Jesus silenced his detractors who were bent on finding fault against him by all means. There was a man with a withered hand right there and it was a Sabbath day. The law simply states: “Obey the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” But over time, this law had been stretched to imply: “Do not work on the Sabbath Day, not even to cook your own meal.”
Jesus was well aware of the law and he knew the implication of healing this man on the Sabbath day. Jesus also realized there was one law which the Pharisees were not aware of; the law of doing good or better put, the Law of Love. So Jesus asked them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it on Sabbath day?”
Sometimes, in our hot pursuit of justice, we actually forget the law of love. We forget that as much as God would be pleased with our strict obedience to his laws, there is no law greater than loving our neighbour as ourselves.
In our first reading, St. Paul warns the Corinthian Church against the spread of immorality in their midst. He said: “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?” Evil usually starts very small, in fact, with just one person. Like a single strike of matchstick on a hot afternoon, evil spreads like a fire razing down a whole forest. Our indifference to evil is actually equivalent to our promotion of evil.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to fully understand the spirit of your Law. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Psalm 5:5-12 and Luke 6:6-11).