Humanity in Communion with God

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
(Mark 3:1-6)

Scripture Study

3:2 They watched Jesus closely Probably refers to the Pharisees (v. 6). so that they might accuse him Profaning the Sabbath was a capital offense (Exod 31:14–15; 35:2; Num 15:32–36).

3:4 to save life rather than to destroy it Jesus’ question about the Sabbath is provocative and was intended to question common viewpoints. Elsewhere Jesus teaches that love of neighbor not only fulfills the law but is central to the kingdom of God (12:29–34). Here, Jesus tangibly demonstrates that human traditions and moral codes should not conflict with love of neighbor.

3:5 hardness of heart This biblical idiom, often rendered as “hardness of heart,” indicates both stubbornness and opposition to God’s workings (Mark 2:6–8).

3:6 Pharisees One of the three Jewish schools of thought in Palestine at the time of Jesus according to the Jewish historian Josephus. While the extent of their influence is unclear, the Pharisees apparently had some influence in political, religious and social spheres in Jewish Palestine. The Pharisees were known for their skill at interpreting the Law of Moses, and they held strict views on what was appropriate behavior for a righteous person. In Mark, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for holding to traditions rather than obeying God’s commands. the Herodians A political party who generally supported Herod Antipas’ regime.

Scripture Reflection

This incident raises the question: Why did Jesus deliberately heal on the sabbath, knowing that it would provoke such furious antagonism? Note that in all four Gospels, every one of the healings initiated by Jesus takes place on the sabbath. On other days, the sick themselves or their relatives or friends approach Jesus to seek healing, but only on the sabbath does Jesus takes the initiative. Why does Jesus apparently prefer to heal on the sabbath? The declaration given provides the answer. The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath, and he exercises his lordship by undoing the effects of sin and inaugurating the new creation by which humanity is restored to the fullness of life that God intended from the beginning. Jesus thereby fulfills the original purpose of the sabbath: to bring humanity into communion with God.

– Mary Healy

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

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