September 11, 2023
by Tamora Whitney
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 437

Colossians 1:24–2:3
Psalm 62:6-7, 9
Luke 6:6-11
Praying Ordinary Time

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I’ve never really understood why the scribes and Pharisees were always trying to trip Jesus up, trying to find some reason to accuse him, but they are at it again in the gospel. It’s the Sabbath. And there’s a man who needs some healing. What to do. I do understand about keeping the Sabbath holy. I do understand about taking time off. And I also understand that sometimes things need to be done right now, even when it’s ‘after hours.’  If someone’s house catches fire on the Sabbath, the flames need to be doused now. If the fire fighters come the next day, it will be too late. If someone takes ill on the Sabbath, immediate care is warranted. If someone needs surgery right then, waiting until the next day would be too late.

Jesus is trying to do good. He’s trying to help people. But he is thwarted at every turn. Shouldn’t we do good when we have the opportunity to do so? He says straight out, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" If you have medical training, and you see someone who needs CPR, and you can save that life, you should, even if it’s on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, Jesus sees a man with a withered arm. He has the ability to help that man. He can heal that man and give him a considerably better quality of life. That would be a very good thing to do. But it’s the Sabbath. The scribes and Pharisees are right there looking for reasons to accuse Jesus. Doing work on the Sabbath is unlawful. But is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than evil? They are doing evil by accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath, while he is doing good by helping someone who needs help. Jesus knows they are out to get him. He knows they will accuse him of breaking the Sabbath, but he still does the good thing, the right thing, even though he knows it will be considered wrong.

Being men and women for and with each other means helping each other when we have that opportunity, and not worrying about the day or the time. I would think that a good way to keep the Sabbath holy is to do good on the Sabbath, and on other days too. We can follow Jesus by doing good when we can, whenever we can.

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