One man’s fault is another man’s possibility

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30 October 2017

At the heart of today’s Gospel is a tension of perspective. The Pharisees look outwards; Jesus looks inwards. Where they find fault, Jesus found possibility.

Two points in the Gospel jump out to me:
First, joyful freedom of the woman. Jesus saw a possibility to heal her, and through an encounter, that possibility became a reality.
The second is the tension felt in the confrontation between the Pharisees who loved their processes and systems more than the people that they are meant to serve, and Jesus.

So, the woman, her appearance tells you enough about her life. She is bent over, crippled, weighed down. She has had her dignity taken away, unable to stand up straight and face the world. It was Jesus’ intervention that made the impact. Through this encounter, she was able to stand tall. You can almost feel the joy that radiates from her as a result. What was her first response? To immediately praise and glorify God. Isn’t that a lesson for each of us? To seek first an encounter with Christ, allow His grace to bring healing to our lives and respond with a joyful, grateful heart.

What is the priority of the Lord? Love, mercy and compassion. Everything else follows. Such a perspective on life may be challenging as it can demand a reprioritisation. This challenge is not just for the leaders in the synagogue, but for each of us today. Imagine being there in the synagogue, how would you react? Imagine having the tension rising around you… would you be able to respond to the challenge to prioritise love above all else?

What happened to the Pharisees as a result of this challenge? The Pharisees, following the letter of the law with disregard for the true intention behind the law, has a new light shone upon them. This light brought the darkness out into the light as Jesus exclaimed – ‘Hypocrites!’

Finally, the Pharisees attempted to assert a limit on God’s grace. Jesus’ response should fill us with confidence today. There really is no limit on God’s actions. His love, mercy and compassion know no limits of time or place.

Today, let us seek out an encounter with Christ in confidence and trust, asking for the healing that we need, and rejoicing when He answers our prayers. Let us ask for a heart that is like the heart of Jesus, full of love, mercy and compassion, ready to defend those in need.
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