A Day for Love

Luke 14: 1-6
Phil 1: 1-11 / Psa 111

Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?
(Luke 14:3)

Works of mercy on Sabbath day
Are made holy when done for love;
If you hear the call to serve or pray,
It’s by God’s Spirit from above.

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away. Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say. (Luke 14:1-6)

Reflection

On three earlier occasions in Luke’s Gospel, our Lord performed His miracle of healing on a Sabbath, and all of them inside a synagogue. The first time was when He cast out an evil spirit from a man who was possessed (Lk.4:31-35). The second time was when He healed a man with a withered hand, after He asked the scribes and Pharisees who had apparently set up the man there, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, (which they were plotting), to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Lk.6:1-5) The third time, it was obvious that the leaders of the synagogue had a hand in it, because it was a crippled woman in the synagogue, where women had no place to be, much less one with such an affliction. But again, Jesus took pity on her, and for good measure rebuked the leader of the synagogue who had objected to the healing on that Sabbath day. “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? 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?” (Lk.13:10-16)

Nowhere does it say in the law, as handed down by God to Moses, that healing the sick and the afflicted or performing acts of charity was against the spirit of the Sabbath. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex.20:8-11) Our Lord Jesus was in fact giving more than rest and comfort to those He had healed of their disorders. And He did it all without the slightest effort, because He was doing it out of love, out of the goodness in His heart.

How do we keep our own “Sabbath Day” holy? Is it enough that we go and spend one hour in worship at Sunday mass? Of course receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the best way to keep our body and spirit holy. But how do we make His day of rest more sacred than the rest of the week? It is by practicing His law of love in all our thoughts, words and actions on this special day. In the words of St. Paul: “that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God” (Phil.1:9-11). If we can fill our hearts and minds with this thought on Sunday, I believe the rest of our week will be holy.

Father God, you are indeed the God of Love, for You have planned everything for our own good, including one day in the week for us to be in communion with You, and to refrain from the concerns of the daily grind of work to be able to practice Your love more fully with our family members, our friends, and those who hunger for your love. For these we thank You.

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