"But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart..."
Wow, that's something to meditate on all day; the Lord looking at them, at me perhaps, with anger. And it is for good reason that He looks with anger. It is because of the "hardness of their heart."
I am quick to judge the Pharisees but slow to judge myself. When have I had a hard heart? When have I placed rules and regulations above mercy?
This isn't just a spiritual or religious problem either. It is a problem in our secular society as well. We are forced to follow rules and regulations at the expense of compassion and mercy.
Just the other day on my way home from work I saw a girl, probably about 14, walking in the neighborhood behind the Church. It was about 4 degrees outside with a windchill and she was wearing a light coat, jeans, and tennis shoes walking through the snow. It was obvious that she was cold, bitterly cold. I wanted to stop and offer her a ride. Even if she lived just a few minutes down the street at least she would be warmed in the car and out of the wind. But I didn't stop. I didn't offer. I drove on by. Why? The rules trumped mercy.
My innocent gesture of humanity could be seen as evil. It could appear that I was some creep patrolling the neighborhood. I envisioned the description of my car all over the evening news. I passed by leaving a daughter of God to shiver in the cold. I had to play by the rules and mercy had to be stashed in the glove box.
I wish I had the courage of Christ. He would have stopped and asked her if she wanted a ride, gave her his coat or something. In the Gospel passage He defiantly breaks the "rules" and administers mercy. In my mind's eye, I see Him standing there asking the question, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" Silence. Silence. Silence.
Such a simple question that can be answered by a child, yet the "men" are silent. I then see Him look at them with anger, turn to the man and defiantly, with a loud voice say, "Stretch out your hand." As the man stretches out his hand there is an audible gasp from the audience while the Pharisees burn with anger and exit stage right.
He lets the chips fall where they may. The world hated Him for it. The powers joined forces against Him. He did what was right, never considering the opinion of the world. Oh, how I wish I were more like Him.
Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD, nor punish me in your wrath.
Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are trembling
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