MONDAY HOMILY OF THE 23RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE I (1)

The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.”

MONDAY HOMILY OF THE 23RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE I

THEME: ADVICE TO ALL FAULT-FINDERS

BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

HOMILY: Lk 6:6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “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?” 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.

In his public ministry, Jesus never fails to surprise everyone. He always comes up with statements and actions that are totally unexpected by the crowd. But He can also be very predictable, and this, when it comes to people in need. The Gospel account today is one such example.

Jesus enters a synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. Right in front of him was a man with a withered hand. Probably it was an inborn and non-painful disability. The man is not asking for healing or any miracle from Jesus. And so the healing could easily have waited until the next day. There are indications, though, that he was purposely put there as a trap for Jesus: “The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.” Obviously, the scribes and Pharisees do not care at all about that man. For them, he is just a tool that they can use as bait in their sinister plan against Jesus.

As expected, when it comes to people in need, Jesus is predictable. Upon seeing the man, He just cannot ignore him. He has to do something to help him, notwithstanding the bad intent of His enemies watching Him. And so, before healing the man, He looked at them, and said, “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?”
Who is really breaking the Sabbath, after all? Jesus, who is going to liberate the man from his long-time ailment and disability? Or the Pharisees who are plotting evil against Jesus? Is the Sabbath there to give people the opportunity to do good, or to harm others?

The Sabbath, per se, is good. But it can be used to perpetrate evil. For the Pharisees, the Sabbath law is used to exploit and oppress people, especially the weak and the poor. And in this particular case, to trap Jesus and find a reason to accuse Him. Jesus has done something good for the man. But they are not happy that the man is healed. They are, in fact, furious that their plan did not succeed. Such vicious people, indeed!

Let us be honest. Sometimes we are not that different from the Pharisees. When envy and pride get the better of us, we go on a fault-finding campaign. And it is not that difficult to find faults in other people. And so we become blind to the goodness of others. What is worse is when we follow what the Pharisees did to the Lord. He had done nothing wrong. But still they speak ill of Him, even to the point of accusing Him to be in connivance with the devil: “This man drives out demons only by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Mt 12:24).
St. Josemaría Escrivá has this beautiful piece of advice to all faultfinders: “We also learn to discover so many virtues in the people about us, who teach us by their hard work, their self-denial, their joy, that we shall not dwell too much on their defects; only when it is absolutely necessary shall we advert to them in order to help them with fraternal correction.”

Let this Gospel today encourage us to struggle against pride and envy. May we always strive to follow the example of Jesus. Like Him, we must be willing and ready to reach out to those in need, and be prompt to excuse and forgive others of their faults and failures, and encourage them towards a life of holiness and righteousness.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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