Before giving my insight and reflection about the gospel that we have heard today, let me first throw a question; suppose it is Wednesday and you are in the office and in a hurry to go back in your home. Suddenly, as you are in haste pacing like a horse, you encounter a man lying on the street helpless and seeking for help, what will you do? Will you extend a helping hand to the man who is restless despite of the consequence of coming late at home or will you disregard it for the sake of promptness? I think all of us will choose to extend our hand to the man who is in need despite the consequence of being tardy because we find it easier to formulate reasons to justify our tardiness. But if we are already on the real and actual situation, do we still be able to easily say “I will help this man” despite the consequence of coming late? In short, it is easily said than done.
The first reading and the gospel for today are inviting us to a Sabbath, a Sabbath that grants love and concern to our neighbor, a Sabbath that teaches us to love the unlovable, to extend hands to those who are suffering and to those who are in need, and to help the oppressed to glorify God. The gospel narrates to us Christ’s act of healing the crippled woman on the Sabbath. Unfortunately, the leader of the synagogue, who knows that any labor is prohibited on the Sabbath, became indignant to Jesus because He violates the Sabbath law. Jesus flares up and justifies his deed saying “Hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?” We can take hold of this, we people who at least trying our best to be faithful to Christ’s teachings. We cannot but observe these things carefully even to its tiniest details. It is a big “no, no” for us not to observe it regularly and carefully because it shapes our identity as Christ’s followers. But we ask, does being observant to it help us also to be more charitable to those who are in need? Are these things also help us to be imitators of God as his beloved children, to love, as Christ loved us, and to share the love that we received to those who are in need of it.
Jesus laid His hand on the woman…the woman stood up straight…the woman glorified God. This is a radical invitation of Jesus for all of us as we are doing our very best to follow him and imitate him. As we faithfully His teachings, let them open our eyes and our hearts to the needs of our brothers and sisters and let it become our instruments for extending a hand and love to them. We cannot deny the fact that we are religious people, but we must never forget that we have also the obligation to help our needy brothers and sisters to let them feel and recognize that God is still reigning in their hearts despite the difficulty of life.
To end this, I would like to share to the simple maxim, fruit of my reflection, and the result of my pondering that may become a simple and humbling message to all of us; “Spirituality without Charity is Hypocrisy, Spirituality with Charity is Benevolence.”