The Word of God

Withering Heights


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 9, 2019

“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.” In the Gospel today, we witnessed yet another pathetic example of hypocrisy taken to its unusual conclusion.  The scribes and Pharisees would rather a man suffer with a horribly deformed hand than to be cured on the Sabbath. This is because they prefer to maintain a deformed view of reality and others suffer who do not fit into their constructs and mindsets.  You see, the Sabbath is much more than law, but truly a gift of God’s care for all of us. He rested on the seventh day not out of fatigue, but to show how a fruitful life should be lived, with enough time for re-creation and renewal.  Our redemption from sin and death are truly the work of God and not us. He has literally “done all the work.” Now, for this glorious break, He wants us to enjoy!

You and I unfortunately tend to rush through our busy week, maybe offering God a fleeting wave or a passing prayer. Sunday, the Sabbath, however, calls us to true and thought-out decision with real intention. We are simply to stop from all the other things we had to do or must do or have to do, and spend quality time with Him and focus attention on Him. When we decide to obey, that is, listen to the Fourth Commandment, we become aware of the astounding and comforting truth that we really belong to God. It is not the Sabbath that we worship but the one who has initiated the Sabbath as we swim in a sort of a memorial in time, a useful tool to help us focus our attention on our awesome destiny. It has the great chance of avoiding spiritual withering within us and awaken the great promise of our Faith:  “It is Christ in you, the hope for glory.” 

On Sundays, try to remember this Reflection. Consider taking a different approach to the Sabbath and let God be at peace with you and for you. Cut out any unnecessary activity and focus on your hope of heaven. Then perhaps we may truly appreciate the blessing of St. John for us as cited from his Gospel in the Alleluia Verse of today: “My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” 

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way. St. Jerome

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