Being Set Free

 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”  Luke 13: 12

 The Gospel reading for this day was the story of the Jesus’s healing of the crippled woman in the synagogue on the sabbath.  She was bent and at his words, immediately stood straight and began to praise God.  At this point, the leaders of the synagogue were indignant that this healing took place on the sabbath and announced that there were six days for work and that this work should not take place on the sabbath day.  Jesus rebuked them using their own habits against them.  He pointed out that they work as they lead their animals to water on the sabbath and the same kindnesses should be shown for God’s people.  At this point they were put to shame and the people rejoiced at the wonderful thing that he did.

 About 20% of the Gospel is about healing.  Healing is the release of anything that binds us…sickness, sin, injustice, failure to receive grace and forgiveness.  God wants us to be free of these impediments for the purpose of serving him and living in relationship with him.

 The crippled woman was an example of faith for the other worshippers at the synagogue.  Even though she could not make eye contact and was most likely isolated from her community, she made the effort to come to Jesus and worship.  Those in our midst who are ailing, some physically…using walkers or using wheelchairs, and some spiritually…dealing with grief or depression are role models for us.  They are liberated in that they can still praise their God.

 There is a difference between being healed and being cured.  When we die we are healed and made whole once more.  Earthly healing may not come in the way we plan. (After all it is not OUR plan that we live.)  Sometimes the healing is physical but sometimes it is spiritual in that we learn to be one with our maker and not let our ailments separate us from him and his people.  We are liberated either way!

 What does this liberation have to do with the sabbath day?  Benedictine nun Joan Chittister shares that scholars of the Talmud tell us that God did not need rest on the sabbath but used the occasion to model and sanctify rest for us.  Four points are made about the blessings of the sabbath day.

1.      All have the right to live a privileged life free from slavery.

2.      This rest applies to the whole world.  The upper class are free from the responsibilities of leadership and control while the lesser class is liberated from their control.

3.      The sabbath day gives us a foretaste of Heaven. 

4.      This day of rest provides time to consider the purpose of life and to draw nearer to our creator.

Sister Joan considers the lack of observance of the sabbath as “the cardinal sin of the late 20th century.”  The concept of sabbath has been lost as we busy ourselves with shopping, sporting, and traveling.  A day of rest is important to our physical and spiritual being.  Observance of the sabbath provides us time to reflect on our relationship with God and to open our hearts and minds to his healing.  As pointed out in the Psalm of the day, this relationship has been ours since conception.  What holds you back?  What keeps you from his healing?

 Mother Mary closed the homily with prayers from the healing service that takes place each Wednesday at 12:15 PM.  They are as follows…

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son:  Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

 Compassionate God, we confess our weaknesses and our need for your strengthening touch.  We confess that some illnesses stem from our own fault, while other are beyond our control.  We turn to you, source of life, and ask in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ for the gifts of true healing and life in you.  Amen