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Always in Your Presence
Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. 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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, be with me in this time of prayer. Help me to receive from these words the message you have for me today. I believe that you love me and want the best for me in every moment.
- Bent Over for Eighteen Years: A crippled woman, unable to lift her head, aching in her bent frame, was at the synagogue on the Sabbath. There she met Jesus. This long-suffering woman could have made any number of excuses to stay home. She might have given in to self-pity or bitterness and decided it was better to be alone. She might have chosen to avoid crowds because she could always feel them staring. There is no mention of a husband or family so she was probably poor. Why pray to a God who had seemingly left her crippled and in poverty? Instead of indulging those thoughts, she went to the synagogue on the day Jesus was preaching. Because she was bent over, she couldn’t see Jesus. She didn’t address Jesus. She didn’t draw near. But Jesus saw her. He had always seen her. He knew her suffering and he chose to end it: “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
- She Glorified God: Jesus laid hands on the crippled woman and “at once she glorified God.” Note that she didn’t ask any questions. She didn’t turn to the crowd for affirmation. She didn’t even seem to have anticipated receiving the cure Jesus gave her. Her beautiful, spontaneous, heartfelt response to this miraculous moment was to glorify God. What a lesson she teaches us. “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
- Adversaries Were Humiliated: The leader of the synagogue chose to criticize Jesus in front of the congregation for his healing on the Sabbath. This was a man charged with pastoring his flock—tending to the spiritual needs of his congregation. Yet, he failed to recognize the long-awaited Messiah in their midst—even after Jesus performed a spectacular miracle. It is no wonder Jesus called Pharisees blind guides (Matthew 15:14). In this passage, Jesus publicly denounced the synagogue leader for his hypocrisy. The resulting humiliation was not caused by Jesus, but was the consequence of the leader’s bold, misguided, hatred-filled criticism of Jesus. Every time we turn away from Jesus, even if no one sees, there are consequences, called by the church temporal punishment due to sin (CCC 1472, 1473).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to see you and appreciate your actions in my life day-to-day, and moment-to-moment. Please cure me of any blindness so that I can love you more and glorify you by my words and actions.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an effort to live every moment in your presence.
For Further Reflection: The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
Maribeth Harper celebrated paying the last tuition bill for her kids’ college by writing a book for moms who have college-aged young adults, And So We Pray, Guidance for Moms with College-Aged Young Adults. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four, and grandmother of ten and counting.
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