Monday, October 25, 2010

Putting Persons before "Practice"

Today's Gospel reading from Mass tells the story of a woman who approaches Jesus in the synagogue on the sabbath to be healed of a severe infirmity that she had endured for 18 years. The Gospel relates that Jesus was carrying out the traditional Sabbath practice of teaching at the time that he caught sight of the woman. Once he sees her, he stops mid-stream and calls her to himself, laying his hands upon her and healing her. However, some in Jesus' audience were not at all amused! The synagogue leader, being a faithful observer of sabbath protocol, rebuked those in the crowd with the admonition, "there are six days when work is to be done, come on one of those days to be healed, and not the sabbath day."

The synagogue leaders request seems reasonable enough. Jesus, however, responds by calling him (and anyone else in agreement with him) "hypocrites." He then cites the common practice of watering one's livestock on the Sabbath and makes the obvious point that if one is willing to do good for an animal on the Sabbath, how much more should one reach out to another in need! The point that one of our friars, Fr. Patrick Quinn, made regarding this Gospel story is that at times we lose cite of persons in deference to practice. In other words, we can become so conditioned to routine, habits, agendas, programs, etc...that we overlook the importance of the persons around us....perhaps even seeing them only as "interruptions" or as a "means to an end." Today's Gospel illustrates in wondrous and dramatic fashion the healing power that can rush upon our world when we put persons before practice. Pat, TOR