Sunday, June 12, 2005


LUKE 6:6-11

Are you surprised that the Pharisees and the scribes saw Jesus as their enemy? Look at today's gospel. The Pharisees are watching Jesus carefully, trying to catch him cure someone on the Sabbath. Brazenly Jesus confronts them. `Which is legal,' he asks them, `which illegal on the Sabbath, to do good, that is, to cure a person, or to do evil, that is, to withhold a cure?' The Pharisees don't answer . . . they can't. Jesus has them in a lose-lose situation. They either agree with Jesus' way of thinking— and this they didn't want to do at all--or they disagree and make themselves look foolish in the peoples' eyes. Jesus himself provides the answer to his own question: "Stretch out your hand," he says to a man with a withered arm. The man obeys, his arm restored to full health: and this on the Sabbath.

Jesus challenged the power elite of Israel, directly in the synagogue; he challenged them publicly and unambiguously, performing with blatant openness the very act they had wanted to catch him doing. Why did Jesus do this? Because the Sabbath was given to men and women for their own good, and yet the Pharisees forbade that good be done on it.

Law exists for people, not than people for law. When law is so structured that it no longer serves the good of citizens; when it is manipulated, controlled by the very few, when it imposes unconscionable burdens on the majority, when it perpetuates and institutionalizes poverty and oppression, the nation requires people who will unmask the evil and confront the evil-doers . . . and the patron saint of these people of course . . . is Jesus of Nazareth.

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