Reflection on Luke 6:6-11
“On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6-7, 9-11)”
In today’s Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees find themselves on the horns of a dilemma, caught between religious observance of the sabbath and the compassionate act of healing. But are they? In fact, the scribes and Pharisees have a third overarching consideration: finding a way to accuse and discredit Jesus.
Sometimes we find ourselves facing dilemmas, having to make difficult choices. The issue of racism can place us in a position of wanting to have compassion for those we perceive as being “not like us,” but to do so we have to admit that racism exists and to examine whether we have a role in perpetuating it. Might we be tempted to find a third option to avoid the thorny issue of whether we perpetuate racism? How about comfort? If we deny that racism exists, we can avoid the discomfort of critically examining our deepest thoughts and feelings and facing the challenge of changing our world view. If we ourselves have not been victims of racism, do we allow ourselves to be seduced into believing that it does not exist?
There is an old saying that the Holy Spirit comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Might that apply here? Is God moving us to compassion for and empathy with victims of racism, which will necessarily move us out of our comfort zone?
The scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel found their comfort in observing the law, which excluded those with disabilities. Do we experience a level of comfort that results in the exclusion of others based on race or ethnicity?