Paralyzed by Pride

Mark 3: 1-6
Heb 7: 1-3 / Psa 110

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” But they remained silent.
(Mark 3:4)

Lack of compassion leads to Pride,
The Pharisees’ paralysis;
In your heart let God’s love reside,
It will heal us of that disease.

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:1-6)

Reflection

The Pharisees had always considered the Herodians as their enemies, because the former were purists (fundamentalist followers of the Torah) while the latter were lackeys of the Romans whom the Pharisees regarded as unclean gentiles. So why would they forge an unholy alliance with the Herodians whom they despised? It was because only the latter had the authority and power to arrest Jesus if His teachings were proven to be subversive against Rome. But why couldn’t they see the good that Jesus had done in making the deformed person whole again? It was because their prejudice against Jesus had blinded them from seeing the miracle as a good deed; instead, they regarded it as a clear violation of their Sabbath law. Their accusation was a lame excuse to justify their evil scheme. In fact they were the ones violating this sacred day by plotting an evil deed. Their hearts had become so paralyzed by the sins of pride and hypocrisy that they had completely forgotten the third and fifth commandments of God: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day,” and “Thou shall not kill.” (Deut.5:12,17)

Reflecting on today’s Gospel, let us ask ourselves these questions: Is there any part in my spiritual life that has become paralyzed or has atrophied? Has my compassion for those who are in need of help (like the victims of floods or typhoons) shriveled because of my own selfish concerns? Do I remain silent as if my tongue has become stiff because I fail to proclaim the Word of God? Have I lost my flexibility to change my position when I know I’m in the wrong? Am I content to just close my mind to what is just and fair, or do I remain silent when it is imperative to stand for the truth? Do I at times feel that perhaps my faith has withered, because my prayers have become mechanical, or observing the ‘Sabbath’ (Sunday Mass) has become an obligatory ritual?

Our faith needs to be regularly exercised if it has to be strengthened by the grace of God. We can do this by constantly stretching out to others — in sharing God’s Word, in praying for the healing of the sick and the dying, and in extending helping hands to the needy. Otherwise, spiritual inactivity will surely lead to a paralyzed faith.

Dear God, take away all my prejudices and cynicism whenever I encounter others who do not share my beliefs and convictions. Let me instead commend and be an encouraging voice to others, and even extend a helping hand if needed. For it is in the practice of love that prevents an atrophied heart. Amen.

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