from St Anselms Chapel Center @ USF
Mark 3:1-5 tells the story of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand. This miracle was overshadowed by the fact that Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, breaking the religious laws of his time. I think we have a hard time understanding this, since not only are our hospitals open on Sunday but so too are restaurants, grocery stores, and pretty much any retail service we might want.
Many of the New Testament stories are very familiar to us, so familiar in fact that they tend to lose their ability to surprise us. It might help to imagine yourself as a character in this story. How would you feel? What would you think? How would you react?
What if you were the man with the withered hand? You go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Your life has been changed by your withered hand: you can’t work and earn your living as you would like. You go to the synagogue but you aren’t really expecting things in your life to change. The doctors haven’t been able to help. You know the religious leaders can’t heal you on the Sabbath, if they could heal you at all.
But, yet, you go and this stranger calls you out. Suddenly you are in the spotlight and everyone is quiet and you don’t know why. And then the stranger speaks and your hand has become whole! What would you say to this man? How would your life be different?
What if, instead, you were one of the crowd watching Jesus? He asks if it is lawful to do good or do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or kill. Perhaps you didn’t know what to say. Everyone had gotten quiet. Will you be in trouble if you say the obvious, that we should save life even on the Sabbath?
And then this man is miraculously healed. Do you say something to Jesus? “Good job”, perhaps?
Perhaps you decide right then and there that you should follow this man, because he has shown that love is the greatest of all commandments.