Daily Reflection
September 11th, 2000
Fr. John Horn, S.J.
Institute for Priestly Formation
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First Corinthians 5:1-8
Psalms 5:5-7, 12
Luke 6:6-11

On a sabbath Jesus came to teach in a synagogue where there was a man whose right hand was withered.  The scribes and Pharisees were on the watch to see if he would perform a cure on the sabbath so that they could find a charge against him.  He knew their thoughts, however, and said to the man whose hand was withered, “Get up and stand here in front.”  The man rose and remained standing.  Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath  or evil?  To preserve life  or destroy it?”  He looked around at them all and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  The man did so and his hand was perfectly restored. 
             Luke 6:6-11

We focus in this passage on the Heart of Jesus to see what type of desires He carries for us.  If we can readily relate to the man with the withered hand we are in good shape spiritually!  This man’s posture is one of openness and receptivity to Jesus’ healing and commanding words, words that are pro-life.

Saint Luke reveals Jesus’ desire to teach, to combat evil and to always restore life.  Jesus comes into our hearts today as He did in that synagogue.  It is important to ask ourselves first of all if we are listening with a predisposition of receptivity, and if we are willing to be taught.  Are we living in a self-satisfied manner thinking that we posses most if not all of the answers?  Secondly, are we aware of the major ways in which the evil one speaks to our human spirit to tempt us, thwarting an active life-giving relationship this day with Jesus?  These gospel verses name evil as omitting to do good.  Not to do good is to do evil.  There is no neutral ground.  Either we are living with attitudes that are conjoined to Jesus’ healing love or we are living apart from participating in His desires that are always pro-life.  Some of the mystery of evil which is at work can become clear if we listen and truly receive Jesus’ words, “Get up and stand here in front” and “Stretch out your hand.”  

What analogous meaning accompanies Jesus’ words as we receive them, allowing them to in-form and teach us?  Surely, Jesus the teacher, the Source of Life wishes to further restore you and me in some fashion today.  Perhaps our human spirit is withered, diminishing in hope?  Perhaps we are deeply fatigued having relied on our own wits to try and combat evil rather than relying on Jesus’ desires to fight battles for us?  Perhaps we are withering inside because we are afraid in our lowliness of standing up in front of the crowd and unabashedly relating with Jesus in our neediness, our human poverty?  Whatever the case may be, inside our hearts we can say “yes” to this gospel’s invitation to place our trust in Jesus’ desires.  These divine desires for life are stronger than any mixture of thoughts, feelings and motivations that are at work in our inner world embracing a false neutrality.  Jesus’ heart desires to restore whatever is withered inside us that is not pro-life.  May we learn from Him who is actively present as the Living Word.  He is laboring in love as Jesus the Poor Man.  We need not be ashamed of our poverty-of-spirit.  It is precisely there, in openness and receptivity, that Jesus’ Spirit dispels the enemies of human nature.  It is precisely in our poverty-of-spirit that Jesus heals whatever is withered within so that we can stand up before the crowd, renewed with hearts that are tasting and radiating the strength of God’s pro-life desires.         

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