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Monday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
On a certain Sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind and healed those crippled in body and soul. You know how much I need you in my life. Teach me how to pray and how to keep my eyes fixed on you.
- The Pharisees Watched Closely: The scribes and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely–not to learn from him, not to understand more deeply, not even to marvel at his power and goodness–but to be able to accuse him. This scene can move us to reflect on our own outward gaze. What are we looking at, or better said, what are we looking for? Struggles in the world today, in our own homes, or in our relationships can cloud our vision. The closer we draw to Jesus, the closer we let him draw us, the brighter his light will shine on us and the more clearly we will see with eyes of faith.
- The Crippled Man Watched Closely: Luke tells us that, knowing the intentions of their hearts, Jesus asked the man to stand up before them. Imagining the scene, we find that Jesus asked a crippled man to stand up in front of the leadership in the synagogue. A man with an infirmity (in those times, often viewed as a punishment from God or a fruit on one’s own or familial sins) stood before all by Jesus’s design. Can we imagine a more vulnerable or exposed position for this man? Yet perhaps his gaze was fixed on the face of Christ, giving him strength even in his vulnerability.
- Our Predisposition: Two people can see the same external actions and yet take in polemically different realities. When the Pharisees looked at Christ they saw only a troublemaker, someone whose activities threatened the community they governed. The cripple saw the same Christ, but he wasn’t threatened. He trusted and courageously opened his hands to receive whatever the Lord wished to give him. He believed, not because he knew what he would get in the end, but because he believed in the goodness of the Giver. Hearts infused with the love of Christ are predisposed to see the light of Christ in others and they live more joyfully as a result.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you come before me today as you did that day in the synagogue. You let yourself be exposed, made vulnerable before me in the Eucharist, in the poor; in the needy; in my own family, friends, and daily realities. Help me to keep my gaze fixed on you. Grant me true openness of sight and heart to find you even in the places where you surprise me most. Send me your Holy Spirit so that I may not become closed in on my own expectations. I long to know the truth that you have come to reveal.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will ask the Holy Spirit for light to readjust my outward vision as needed and purify my intention.
For Further Reflection: A helpful way to remember prayers of petition to the Holy Spirit throughout the day is through song. “Be Thou My Vision” or “Refiner’s Fire” are good examples.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.