Sunday, October 28, 2012

You Are Set Free

You Are Set Free

October 29, 2012
Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light.  Ephesians 5:1-2,8

And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.  When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."  He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.  Luke 13:11-13


Alas, alas for you
Lawyers and Pharisees
Hypocrites that you are
Sure that the kingdom of Heaven awaits you
You will not venture half so far
Other men who might enter the gates you
Keep from passing through!
Drag them down with you!
You snakes, you viper's brood
You cannot escape being Devil's food!

I send you prophets, I send you preachers
Sages and rages and ages of teachers
Nothing can bar your mood
(Excepts from the lyrics to "Alas for You," from Godspell by Stephen Schwartz, 1971)


Today we have another story with conflicts on multiple levels.  First, we encounter with Jesus the woman battling a physical ailment for eighteen years.  Jesus is confronted with the perplexing case about whether or not to cure her on the Sabbath.  Although it might perplex the Pharisee, it does not phase Jesus in the least.  As much as Bartimeus wanted to see, she wants to overcome her affliction.  Jesus wants to overcome the objection of the temple leaders.  He tells them, "Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?"  
Once cured, like Bartimeus, she gives praise to God. Once cured, the Pharisees give grief to the Son of God. This is the second battle Jesus engages.  Jesus will have none of this attitude.  Just as he conquers the crippling affliction of the woman, he conquers the crippling attitude of the Pharisee.
This story is juxtaposed right after the parable of the barren fig tree.  After giving the example of the patient gardener cultivating a tree until it bears fruit, Jesus exhibits no such patience with the Pharisee.  He has no patience for hypocrites and those who would get in the way of serving the faithful at any time of day or night. 


What cripples us?  Is it something physical, emotional, or spiritual?  Before we can conquer it, we must encounter it…see it for what it is -- an obstacle to true friendship with God. 
God wants to be patient with us.  The Lord awaits our conversion so we can bear fruit just as Bartimeus and the crippled woman show faith despite their affliction.  The blind man "sees" Jesus better than those in the crowd with sight.  The crippled woman approaches Jesus more upright than all the temple leaders.  We, too, are challenged to rise above what gets in the way of our right relationship with Jesus.

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