Crippled By Bias and Hypocrisy

Luke 13: 10-17
Rom 8: 12-17 / Psa 68

Should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for 18 long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?
(Luke 13:16)

Of many things I can’t discern,
Lord Jesus heal my crippled faith;
And bent by sin, please help me learn
To find the will to stand up straight.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, and a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years was there, bent over and unable to straighten up. When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then He laid His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When He said this, all His opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things that He was doing. (Luke 13:10-17)

Reflection

The synagogue leader’s indignation revealed not only his hypocrisy and ignorance about the observance of the Sabbath (on how to keep it holy), but also his generation’s bias against women, especially those who had afflictions. Giving this sinful, second-class citizen the attention and healing inside their sacred place on a sacred day was for the religious leaders tantamount to a blatant desecration of their traditions. To their face, Jesus referred to the crippled woman as “a daughter of Abraham” to remind these elders who were fond of saying “Abraham is our father” that women are just as much children of God and co-heirs of His kingdom. If they were indeed so concerned about their “holiness”, shouldn’t they have rejoiced that a member of their synagogue had finally been freed from the evil that bound her for eighteen long years?

In some ways we might as well be crippled by hypocrisy like the synagogue officials if we are only concerned about the legal observance of the Sabbath (or Sunday Mass). How do we keep God’s day of rest holy? Is an hour spent in church sufficient? Did we show a little concern for that bent woman begging at the church entrance as Jesus did? Or was our money for her decent meal too much of a sacrifice? Jesus said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Mt.12:7). It is not in sacrifice or in the observance of laws or rites that sanctifies our day or our life. It is in showing mercy and compassion to the weakest of God’s children. Women have always been taken advantage of because of their weakness. We hear and read of rapes and muggings, of abused and battered women. Amnesty International, in its campaign to stop violence against women, said, “From the battlefield to the bedroom, women are at risk.” We must all do our share to stop this “bending” of women’s lives, whether at home or in the marketplace. It is our prejudices against women that have caused our values to be bent and crippled.

As we end this month dedicated to Mary, Jesus’ Mother, let us pledge to honor her by treating all women in our life as if they were our own mother or sister. This mind-set will make us realize how important it is to honor women, just as our Lord Jesus showed respect and compassion to all of them.

Father God, You created women so that all men may know the pleasure of love, the stability of family, and the comfort of home. Thank You for all mothers, sisters, wives and daughters, for without them, life in this world would have been totally dull and meaningless. Bless all the women in our lives, for they are to us Your greatest gifts and blessings. Amen.

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