Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”
When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I was on retreat many years ago during which the retreat director repeated a line that has stuck with me ever since the world wounds us and prayer heals us.
The woman in today’s Gospel was so wounded by the spirit that crippled her that she was “bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.” This is a good image for us to pray with today. What are the evil spirits in our lives that leave us bent over, crippled, and wounded?
Another good image to pray with today is that of Jesus laying his healing hands on the woman and her standing up straight to praise God. Sometimes I approach prayer as if I am trying to “accomplish” or “fix” something. But I have found that my best moments of prayer are when I open up my wounded self to Jesus’ loving embrace. God’s unconditional love is the balm that heals our wounds and enables us to stand up straight again.
—Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.
How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord”—we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply is: do I allow God to love me?
—Pope Francis, Dec. 24, 2014
Please share the Good Word with your friends!