Sunday, September 06, 2015

For This I Labor

It is [Christ] whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.  COL 1:28-29

Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.”  He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:10-11

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares can destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Is it lawful to do good works on Friday?  On Saturday?  On Sunday?  On Monday?  When could it possibly be lawful NOT to do good works?

In case you missed the first confrontation that Jesus had with the Pharisees about “working” on the Sabbath, here is a refrain.  That reading was two days ago but bears repeating not only then but now. 

The confrontations with the Pharisees are getting more and more regular.  They must feel like Jesus is thumbing his nose at thousands of years of Mosaic Law and sacred history.  Most days, Jesus is trying to avoid the direct confrontation and admonishes his followers to NOT talk about his good works and signs.  However, how can they keep from singing his praises when the deaf hear, the lame walk, the blind see?

Even the construction of the Good News is telling.  The actions of Jesus are told in the passive voice.  (“His hand was restored.”) Not the active voice (“Jesus restored his hand.”)  However, the actions and reactions of the Pharisees are in the active voice.  They became enraged.  They discussions what they might do. 

There are many roles in today’s readings.  If you were the person with the withered hand, would you want the Lord to “work” on the Sabbath?  If you were the Pharisees trying to keep a semblance of order in the temple in front of the belligerent Roman army, would you want to keep the peace and stop Jesus from challenging your authority?  If you were Jesus, would you want to get about your Father’s work?

For what do you labor and struggle? How much are you like St. Paul who “proclaims Christ” while admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.”   St. Paul leaves every ounce of blood and toil and sweat and tears on the battlefield of Good and Evil.

How did you spend your Sabbath? How do you spend your days between Sabbaths?

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