Eph 4:32–5:8; Ps 1:1-4,6; Lk 13:10-17: The way of the just is to behave like God as his very dear children. We find our blessing in putting the counsel of the wicked into context. When the judgments of the crooked and perverse are seen in the context of the Word of God, the entire revelation from on high, we gain a perspective that liberates everyone who seeks wisdom. When we refuse to walk in the ways of sin and when we do not linger with those who are cynical, we are free to behold the true, the good, and the beautiful. Our preoccupation from early morning to evening shadows must be the law of the LORD. Indeed we meditate on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. In this meditation we seek to know who we are and whose we are. In this meditation we discover that we are trees planted near running water, our branches bear fruit for all who hunger, and our leaves never fade. Indeed, whatever we do prospers. Our only sadness is that evil survives; sin and vice still abound. Indeed in our mourning, we find the blessedness of Christ. It is His Breath, the Holy Spirit, that is the strong driving wind that drives the chaff of sinners away, far away. We are blessed to see that the LORD watches over the way of his dear children and that the way of the wicked vanishes, completely. As Saint Paul reminds the Ephesians, we were once darkness, but now we are light in the LORD. The Lord Jesus casts the light of compassion on the hearts of those enemies who would condemn him for healing on the Sabbath. That light of compassion has the severe brightness of his challenge, “You hypocrites!” Sometimes, our own liberation begins with the startling truth about our own hypocrisy. Sometimes only painful truth can clarify our distorted vision.
Saint Paul summons his children in the LORD, to live as children of light. Like the Ephesians, we too are called to be bright with the glory of God. Like the sacrifices of the Temple in Jerusalem our efforts at sacrificial living are to be a fragrant aroma, arising before the Divine Majesty like incense day in and day out. We must be vigilant, and we must be careful not to let anyone deceive us with empty arguments. Many empty arguments arise in our pluralistic culture. We hear constant appeals to “compassion” as the reason to justify conceiving children and harvesting their stem cells. Such a procedure is killing not compassion. We hear casual appeals to “tolerance” as the reason to justify redefining marriage. Any union of men, women, adolescents, and animals is the same thing as the union of a man and woman open to children. Such argumentation is destructive of the very environment that children need to grow up capable of human freedom and healthy lifestyles. Some vigorously propose that the use of pornography enables couples to get more enjoyment out of their sexual intimacy. Others see it as a form of therapy for those who need to get off some steam and avoid rape or other forms of abuse. These advocates argue that at least such activity is alone and “doesn’t hurt anyone.” Immorality, impurity, lust, and greed abound and are excused by so-called enlightened and tolerant citizens. Such behaviors are called by Saint Paul what they really are: Idolatry. Any time we bow down to someone or something or some action that seems to satisfy our every need and desire we are engaging in idolatry. Indeed, we are caught up in the lie that we can satisfy ourselves and use anyone or anything we want to achieve our own satisfaction. This too is a lie. The ends never justify the means. Once we have come to know who we are, and whose we are, we have no time for lies. We have no time for disobedience and association with those who promote the destruction of human dignity and community.
Rather than use the law of the LORD as a guideline for virtuous living and holiness, the leaders of the synagogue used the Sabbath Law to condemn the Lord Jesus. These men seem to be worshiping the law or at least their interpretation of the law rather than letting the Law lead them to union with God and humble service of the LORD. The Lord Jesus did not for an instant let their deception cast any condemnation upon him or his healing of the crippled woman. They thought they had him in a clear violation of the Sabbath Law, and could now discredit his ministry and turn away his followers. However, the Lord Jesus calls a spade, a spade. He accuses his accusers of hypocrisy. He reminds them that even the lesser beings, their domestic animals, are allowed to experience compassion on the Sabbath. Why shouldn’t a daughter of Abraham be given compassion after eighteen years of suffering? Indeed, such a bold and honest challenge silenced his enemies publicly and the crowd rejoiced to behold the kindness of our God in the healing ministry of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We today behold his healing and his nourishing us with great compassion in this Eucharist. Let us rejoice in this splendid deed, and be glad in his faithfulness and love.