In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus is in a synagogue on the Sabbath, and there is a man there with a withered hand. The people there are watching Jesus closely, waiting to see what Jesus might be willing to do on the Sabbath. So, Jesus, knowing what’s on everyone’s mind, calls the man up front, and then asks a question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Then Jesus heals the man.
As I reflected on this, I wondered if Jesus is telling us to always grasp the opportunity to do good, even if it comes across as unseemly or untimely. I was reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” in which he tries to explain to the religious leaders who asked him to refrain from the direct action he was leading, why the work for civil rights could not wait: “This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’”
There are many opportunities, both great and small, for us to do good and to save life. There are many people of good faith, even if their faith is not ours, with whom we can work to achieve good and promote life. And there is no need to wait.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.