Healing withered hands MARK 2:23–3:6
Pope Francis called on the world’s priests to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalised and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep”.
Today’s Gospel begins in that same vein—we see Jesus walking and talking with His disciples and understanding their needs. Jesus is not caught up with the Sabbath; He is sympathetic to the human need.
A feature of Sundays nowadays is its solitariness for many and the exclusion of the deprived and the weak from many of its social activities. Individualism is coming to dominate our lifestyle but we are created for relationship and community. According to Tom Clancy “To ignore the basic trust of one’s being is as foolish as it is prevalent”.
In Matthew’s Gospel 25:35–39 we are told that we are going to be judged according to our response to those in need. We are called to hear the cry of the poor: we are called to quench thirst, feed the hungry, house the homeless and today, that means looking after those who seek refuge. The Gospel calls us to heal those with withered hands, not to be caught up with the law.
Our education system is in turmoil because of the law that leads to the ‘broilerisation’ of our children who are herded toward the SEA exam regardless of their academic abilities. We need teachers who are ‘Jesus people’, who will recognise those with withered hands and need to be helped.
The laws that govern our health system sometimes prevent those in need of medical attention but who are not financially equipped to access the care necessary. I know of one case where a 57 year old in need of an operation has been on a waiting list for the past three years. Once the bread winner of the family, today he is reduced to a withered state wearing absorbent products which consumes the little he gets from the Government.
The Church is not exempted. What are the Church laws that prevent persons with withered hands from coming forward? Do we know who they are?
We must hear Jesus say today “Is it against the law of the Sabbath to do good or to do evil; to save life or to kill?” How many of us are like Pharisees looking for ways to catch those who want to be like Jesus? How many of us hold on to the law that prevents us from attending to those in need?
One hundred and fifty years ago, the withered hands were lepers, orphans, unfortunate families and children. Do we know who these people are today? Are we willing to call them forward to have their needs attended to and their withered hands healed?
In spite of the apparent misunderstanding of the Sabbath, there is still hope when we look at the lives of people like St Teresa of Kolkata, Pope Francis and others who are ‘Jesus people’. Pope Francis says hope discerns between good and evil; it does not worship at the altar of success, falling into optimism or wallowing in pessimism because hope discerns between good and evil: it is called to combat.
Yet it fights without anxiety or illusion, with the assurance of one who knows that he pursues a sure goal. As we read in the Bible: “Let us lay aside every incumbent of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead” (Heb 12:1).
The Gospel Meditations for June are by Sr Angilla Corraspé OP of the Gran Couva/Tabaquite Parish.