Bent Over

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Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time 

Luke 13:10-17
He 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: Lord Jesus, I desire freedom and I know that you alone can make me free. Lord, I humbly ask for freedom of spirit, freedom in love, and freedom from sin and selfishness. 
Encountering Christ:

  1. Bent OverThe woman in today’s Gospel was bent over, presumably forced by her infirmity to stare at the ground ahead rather than to look at a person talking to her. From her position, she couldn’t see the clouds in the sky, watch birds nesting in the trees, or scan a crowd for familiar faces. She was missing out on some of life’s simple pleasures. Standing there in the synagogue that day, she listened to Jesus teaching but she couldn’t see his face—until he called her over. How often are we like this woman? Bent over, crippled by sadness, grief, or illness? Unable to see any blessings amidst so much sorrow? When we feel like this, we need to place ourselves in proximity to Jesus, as the bent-over woman did. Whether or not we see his face or audibly hear his voice, Jesus will make himself present with healing graces. May we abandon ourselves in these situations and trust God to act in his time. 
  2. He Touched Her: Jesus laid his hands on the woman to cure her. What must it have been like to feel the Lord’s hands on her head sending his healing powers through her tortured body? The touch of Christ happens in our lives every time we receive a sacrament. He also touches us through other people or through “coincidental” circumstances he arranges during our day. When have you felt the touch of Christ? What was it like? Whether it was physical, emotional, or spiritual, the consequence of being touched by Christ is a heart overflowing with gratitude. Thank you Lord Jesus!
  3. Angry Legalism: Jesus unequivocally condemned the legalism of the Pharisees who complained that he healed the woman on the Sabbath. They were so infuriated with Jesus’s rising status among the people that they were unable to feel compassion for the woman, or even awe at the healing power manifested by Christ. Anger is a human emotion, but how we process it divides sinners from saints. Unchecked anger is a dangerous vice—one that can blind us to good in our lives. The Scriptures say, “Be angry but sin not” (Psalms 4:4)

Conversing with Christ: Lord, help me to accept the circumstances in my life. Please give me self-mastery to control any anger I feel, and prudence to take a course of action that is pleasing to you. I never want to be considered a “hypocrite” or a wrathfully angry person, but I need your grace to live peacefully and authentically. 
Resolution: Lord, by your grace I will entrust my concerns to you and mentally “let go” of anything that is preventing me from seeing the blessings in my day. 
For Further Reflection: The Seven Deadly Sins: Anger, an excellent blog post on dealing with anger.
Written by Maribeth Harper.

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