Restored to the Fullness of Life

Scripture Reading

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

3:1–5 Here Jesus is again depicted in conflict with his adversaries over the question of sabbath-day observance. His opponents were already ill disposed toward him because they regarded Jesus as a violator of the sabbath. Jesus’ question Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil? places the matter in the broader theological context outside the casuistry of the scribes. The answer is obvious. Jesus heals the man with the withered hand in the sight of all and reduces his opponents to silence; cf. Jn 5:17–18.

3:6 In reporting the plot of the Pharisees and Herodians to put Jesus to death after this series of conflicts in Galilee, Mark uses a pattern that recurs in his account of later controversies in Jerusalem (Mk 11:17–18; 12:13–17). The help of the Herodians, supporters of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, is needed to take action against Jesus. Both series of conflicts point to their gravity and to the impending passion of Jesus.[1]

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.7 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 in 2:28 and illustrated in 3:1–6 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. This is what we experience in the celebration of the Eucharist – intimate communion with the Lord.

– Mary Healy

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



[1]  Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1405-1406.