On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
It important to keep in mind that the Jewish proscriptions Jesus intentionally violated were as much cultural and social boundaries as they were religious “laws.” By healing the sick on the sabbath, Jesus eschewed the core beliefs of his time. Do you see someone doing likewise today? At what cost? Are you willing to acknowledge that our religion and our society have certain norms which may act as prohibitions against reaching out to heal others?
Undoubtedly it can be frightening to act against the norms of one’s culture, which we often internalize as unquestionably true. Despite the warnings from the priests and those “in the know,” Jesus transcended fear of what others may think of him. He drew upon God to find strength to peacefully move ahead with what he knew was right, though it came at the cost of a whisper campaign against him, followed by a much worse fate.
—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
Prayer at Ground Zero
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.
—Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Prayer at Ground Zero, 2008Please share the Good Word with your friends!