Today’s reading from Luke describes Jesus healing a woman on the Sabbath. After Jesus heals the woman the leaders at the synagogue become indignant saying Jesus should not have healed her because it was the Sabbath. In their opinion Jesus broke the rules. Luke tells us that Jesus won this debate concerning healing on the Sabbath. According to Luke we don’t need "fact checkers" or an instant poll to determine who was right and who was wrong. Luke says "all his adversaries were humiliated".
Jesus seems to have a clear bias toward breaking the rules when it comes to compassion and kindness. Our reading from Ephesians today also emphasizes the primacy of kindness and compassion over all else. "Brothers and sisters: Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ." This seems to be so clear. Yet at times I admit my own attempts to maintain control in situations turns out to be the rule which blocks my urge to be compassionate.
I use the rule of control in my life to moderate my compassion and keep the urgings of the Holy Spirit in the "safe" range. Perhaps my own need for control could be called the sin of risk management. I manage the risk in situations which clearly call for speaking out against injustice, poverty and hatred by measuring my words and actions in a way which keeps me safe against the reactions of others. I’m probably not what you would call a great "risk taker". You won’t find me joining the courageous man who recently parachuted from a balloon at the speed of sound!
On the other hand, if I am not ready to take a risk for the sake of the Gospel, am I much different from the leaders who complained about Jesus healing on the Sabbath? My reflection on today’s scripture readings leads me to a rather humbling examination of conscience, an old but definitively relevant practice in today’s world!
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.