Healing on a Sabbath

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

Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern would not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?
(Luke 14:5)

Work is holier on the sabbath day
If it’s for the sake of love.
Not by our power do we work or pray,
But God’s Spirit from above.

On a Sabbath, Jesus was invited to dine in the home of a leading Pharisee, and the people there were observing Him carefully. In front of Him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the scholars of the law and the Pharisees: “Is it lawful to cure on a Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent, so He took the man, and after healing hinm dismissed him. Then He said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern would not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer His question. (Luke 14)

Reflection

For us Christians, going to mass on Sundays has become such a regular schedule that we cannot imagine spending a Sunday without this mandate. We go to mass on this last day of the week because it is the holiest day, and we need to give a portion of our time to God. That is why we do not work on a Sunday. If we do work on this day, however, out of love for those who depend on us, it does not mean we are making God’s day less holy. In fact, we are making it more special for Him. Nothing we do, after all, can make any day more or less holier. Only God can make it so.

Jesus discarded the laws of the Sabbath when He saw a need to be charitable. It is always best to err on the side of compassion and generosity. As St. Paul said to the Philippians (first reading), “It is my prayer 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…” (Phil.1:9-10). In fact, God would even be pleased if we missed Sunday mass because we practiced corporal works of mercy like visiting the imprisoned or ministering to those who seek God.

My cousin Nilo invited us to his new-found ministry of visiting the inmates of our city jail one Sunday, where we distributed books, and had the opportunity to bring cheer to the imprisoned. We saw the miserable condition of the more than 700 souls incarcerated there, in quarters built for half their number. The warden showed us a nearby site where the Couples for Christ would build GK housing units for the women and juvenile inmates. He said the site needed 250 truckloads of landfill before the housing units could be constructed. My friends and I committed to raise the needed funds ASAP to help decongest the rehabilitation center. This was a need that had to be addressed far more than our obligation to go to mass that day, which, fortunately, we were still able to attend at 6:00 pm. Somehow, deep within us, we felt God’s call, which had manifested itself in our lives that beautiful Sunday morning.

You make our Sabbath day more special, Father, when You send us to those who are in need, for as our Lord Jesus said, You desire mercy more than sacrifice. Amen.

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