Gospel Mk 3:1-6Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to the Pharisees,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
Jesus goes to the synagogue to give the example of right worship in observation of the 3rd Commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day. Jesus shows the deeper sense of the commandment to keep the day holy -- to do what is good and what is just, to serve. And, in that moment he calls a man to healing.
Imagine you are the man with the withered hand. Perhaps you are unable to work, to support your family, to handle the basic needs of everyday life because of your disability. But, there you are in the synagogue -- perhaps you are begging alms, praying, looking for mercy among those who should readily be able to afford it to you. The regulars, the people who have seen you week after week, day after day, in your infirmity use you as a pawn to trap Jesus.
Then, Jesus asks you to do something that goes against the grain. You have been faithful, have come to the synagogue although you are considered "unclean" because of your withered hand. And now, He asks you to come forward to be healed on the Sabbath. He asks you to believe in something greater than what you understand. Are you afraid to follow Jesus? Do you wonder what the Pharisees will do to you if you disobey the Jewish law? Or, does being in the presence of God bring you to belief beyond your understanding and transform you in mind and body?
You are healed.
Here is the lesson for all of us today -- although most of us may not have a withered hand, we might have a complicated life, a broken spirit, an illness or mind or body. For most of us, the difficulty begins with the willingness to believe because of the fear of the unknown. We like to have things neat and tidy, understandable and without mystery. For others, they believe but with limitations; approaching God causes them to stumble because it means they must acknowledge a higher authority than their own. And still for others, they can come before God, but true submission to that power is where the obstacle is most profound. They can believe and approach, but there is still reservation in their heart. It is so hard to let go of pride, arrogance, conceit. The fear of not being one's own master is recognized clearly in the inability to submit.
Ultimately, these three difficult steps of professing belief, being in the presence of God and giving Him all that we have -- joys, sorrows, prayers and deeds, all that we do and all that we will do -- brings believera to healing. It's that example that we see in the Gospel story of the healing of the man with the withered hand. It's that example we should and must follow.
St. Anselm of Canterbury proclaimed: "I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand."
First believe. Then, like the man with the withered hand, approach, submit and be healed, even if you don't understand.