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.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one 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?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
Today’s readings, call to mind several messages and invitations. The first invitation was to be attentive to how I am crippled, bent over and/or burdened. What is keeping me from standing erect? This could certainly be the work of the devil but let's take a little closer to home. What attitudes am I currently holding that are not life giving? What assumptions am I buying into that may not be true? Whose opinions am I accepting as right but may not be? What things, culturally, have grabbed my attention but feel heavy? Reflecting on questions like these brings us all to another question for reflection, maybe even a more important question. How I am crippling others with assumptions, judgments and attitudes?
It is clear from the Gospel reading today that Jesus is implying that the leader of the synagogue was doing just that. With his attitude of indignation, judgment and “letter of the law truth” he was crippling those he claimed to be leading. He was preventing them from seeing Jesus as the Light and consequently impeding their journeys to live as children of the Light.
Children of the Light are “kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another . . . .” Children of the Light “live in love.” When we are not living in love, it is important to take a step back and ask the questions in prayer, “How am I burdened?” “How am I burdening others?” Then, when we have recognized our role in our own and others crippling, we need to pray for Christ’s healing touch and mercy for ourselves and our world.