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Love over Law
Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
On a Sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question.
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you, I hope in you, and I love you. You are all merciful. As I read and reflect on your words, teach me to forgive and to reach out to others as you do. Lord, I ask for the grace of a merciful heart.
- No Judgment Zone: The man suffering from dropsy was likely judged by the Pharisees to be a sinner and therefore they saw his affliction as a punishment by God. We know that not all suffering is a consequence of sin, and Jesus has taught us that judgment is God’s right alone. Jesus shows concern for the suffering man and taught us how to be merciful. May we choose as Christ did to reach out and lift others up with mercy and forgiveness.
- Distortion of the Law: The Pharisees followed the letter of the law, interpreting it in minute detail. In their rigorous enforcement, they distracted themselves and veered off from God’s original intention. They missed the message Christ brought—love sums up the whole law. Jesus gave us the reason behind the law. Not working on the Sabbath is an important way to honor God, but the law does not justify leaving someone to suffer unnecessarily. Loving acts of kindness and healing are always encouraged, Sabbath or not.
- Silence: Jesus left the Pharisees speechless when he exposed their hypocrisy and legalism. They knew that no words could defend their judgmental attitude. At times in our lives, Jesus exposes our sins to us as well—either through other people, interiorly during prayer, or by negative consequences we experience. In those instances, silence might be our best recourse, but not the silence that disguises internal rage like that of the Pharisees. Our silence reflects our sorrow for having offended Jesus, humility, and the desire to be strengthened and healed through the sacraments. As we say in the act of contrition, we “firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
Conversing with Christ: Dear Lord, true love engenders a merciful heart. Help me to love like you do, so that when I see someone in need, I reach out to help, whether it’s convenient or not. I want to recognize my own insignificance and see you in every soul I encounter. When I fail, allow me to see my faults and humbly seek you in the sacrament of reconciliation.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will extend an act of kindness to someone who has been wrongly judged.
For Further Reflection: Pope Francis’s reflection on October 31, 2014.
Written by Renee Pomarico.
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