DAILY MEDITATION: "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?"
Liturgical day: Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel text (Lk 14,1-6): One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched. In front of him was a man suffering from dropsy; so Jesus asked the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?". But no one answered. Jesus then took the man, healed him and sent him away. And he addressed them, "If your lamb or your ox falls into a well on a Sabbath day, who among you doesn't hurry to pull it out?". And they could not answer.
"Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?"
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, we will center our attention on the piercing question Jesus asked the Pharisees: "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" (Lk 14, 4), and in their very significant silence, as per St. Luke: "But no one answered" (Lk 14, 4).
Many are the Gospel episodes where Our Lord reproaches their hypocrisy to the Pharisees. It is quite noteworthy how God's outstanding interest in substantiating up to which point He dislikes this sin —false appearances, deceitful actions—, which is placed at the antipodes of Christ's praise to Nathaniel: "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him" (Jn 1, 47). God loves the heart's simplicity, the spirit's naivety while, on the other hand, He rejects with energy the intricacies, the shady looks, the double standards, the hypocrisy.
That which is significant in the Lord's question and in the Pharisees' silent reply is the bad conscience they had, deep inside. There was a man suffering from dropsy who was looking forward to be healed by Jesus. The fulfillment of the Judaic Law —ludicrous concentration on the letter with total disdain of the spirit— and the empty presumption of their blameless behavior, brings them to appear shocked by the attitude of Christ who, carried away by his merciful heart, does not allow any legal formalisms to prevent him from healing he who is ailing.
The Pharisees realize that their hypocrite behavior cannot be justified and this is what keeps them silent. In this passage a very clear lesson is shining through: the need to understand that saintliness is to follow Christ —to full enamorment— and not to coldly fulfill some legal precepts. The Commandments are holly because they come all the way directly from God's infinite Wisdom, but it is quite possible to live them in a legalist and empty way, and it is then when the incongruence appears of pretending to follow God and ending up by going behind ourselves.
Let the charming simplicity of the Mother of God direct our lives.