Curing a Crippled Woman

Luke 13: 10-17
Rom 8: 12 –17/ Psa 68

Shouldn’t this daughter of Abraham be set free from what binds her?
(Luke 13:16)

Of women, this all men must learn:
In numbers they showed more concern
To Jesus, bent by our sins’ weight,
Was urged on by their steadfast faith.

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on a Sabbath when He saw a woman there who had been a cripple for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up. Taking compassion on her, Jesus called her forward and said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Putting His hands on her, she immediately straightened up and started praising God. The synagogue ruler, indignant that Jesus had healed on a Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” But Jesus told 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 daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:10-17)


It was all too much for the strict synagogue ruler to take. Jesus had discarded all the rules of protocol, interrupting His teaching and calling an infirmed woman to the front of the synagogue (women’s places were always at the back). Disregarding His station as a rabbi, He touched the impure woman, and then desecrated the Sabbath by healing her! But for his outburst, Jesus rebuked the synagogue ruler and his kind as hypocrites. How rich in lessons this incident in the synagogue brings to us today.

There were a number of things in Jewish society that needed to be straightened out, and Jesus saw the opportunity to do it when a woman bent with a crippling disease entered the synagogue that Sabbath day. First, by calling the woman to the front of the synagogue, and calling her a “daughter of Abraham”, He elevated the status of women to the same level of men, they being also children of God, and co-heirs of His kingdom. By touching her, Jesus showed the Jews that her affliction was not the result of sin; she was not impure, and therefore could not defile Him. He had to humiliate His adversaries by calling them hypocrites to expose them for what they were, and to open their eyes to the fact that their man-made laws had made them blind to God’s compassion and mercy.

In some ways we might be guilty of hypocrisy like the synagogue officials if we are only concerned about the legal observance of the Sabbath (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 giving alms 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 “bending” women’s lives, whether at home or in the marketplace. As we end this month dedicated to Mary, Jesus’ Mother, let us pledge to honor her by treating all women like our own mother or sister.

Dear God, our prejudices against women may have caused our values to be bent and crippled. Thank You for making us realize how important it is to honor all women, just as our Lord Jesus showed respect and compassion to all of them. Amen.

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