Jesus comes to restore freedom in our relationships with people and things.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Today’s Gospel takes place is the Synagogue. It’s a sacred place – the equivalent of our churches in our communities. There, Jesus finds a man who is in pain:
“A man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him.”
No one really cared about his suffering. He is just an excuse for accusing Jesus.
Jesus turns the situation on its head: “He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’”
If the world marginalizes those who suffer, Christians must learn to take the pain of those who suffer to the very center of their lives and decisions. We cannot remain indifferent to the concrete stories of the people we meet. We must ask ourselves what Jesus would want us to do with these people and their pain. They are not an excuse to do as we please. Instead, they give us the great opportunity to do as Jesus did:
“Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”
One can be a Christian with a hardened heart. We can even become a heartless Church. We can have faith but no longer a heart that notices people’s pain. It is because of this hardness that oftentimes the Gospel no longer sheds any light in our lives and in the world. One identifies a Christian from their hearts, from their compassion, from their capacity to see people like Jesus does – especially those who suffer.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.