The synagogue leader is designated by the community to gather the people for prayer, for the reading of the Torah and the Prophets, and for tackling community concerns. As keeper of the sacred scrolls, he is a prominent person who is familiar with the Law’s rules and precepts, including prohibitions on the Sabbath. When he witnesses Jesus cure a crippled woman on the Sabbath, he sees only the violation of the Sabbath rest and complains, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” His words to the crowd are really directed to the woman and to Jesus who is offended by such hypocrisy. The synagogue leader is more concerned with the regulation of the Law—although the Law allows rescue of animals—rather than suffering of a human being. Healing may indeed be “work”—but it is a “work of love” and also a “work of God” that restores the brokenness of creation wrought by sin and the evil spirit. Jesus’ compassion and love releases the woman from infirmity that has bound her for 18 years.
GOSPEL • Lk 13:10-17
10Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. 11And a woman was there who for 18 years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. 12When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” 13He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. 14But 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.” 15The 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? 16This 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?” 17When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
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