Called To Do Good Always
In the first reading of today we hear Paul speak with conviction and enthusiasm about his mission of preaching the gospel. It is a glorious task. We can feel how the gospel fills him and has become the sole meaning of his life. Let Christ also be the meaning of our lives. If so, we cannot but preach him by our words and our way of life.
It is strange how, as we read in the gospel, faithful, practicing religious people, like the scribes and Pharisees – the regular churchgoers of their day – were a big obstacle to the work of Jesus, God’s work. They are upset and angry because Jesus cures a man with a withered hand on the day of the Lord. Jesus came to do good and to preserve life, as he said, to carry out a mission of love and life, and these cannot be adequately expressed in laws and commands. We may and should do good also on Sundays!
1 Reading: Colossians 1:24–2:3
Brothers and sisters: I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his Body, which is the Church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labour and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you and for those in Laodicea and all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love, to have all the richness of assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 62:6-7, 9
R. (8) In God is my safety and my glory.
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed. R.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge! R.
Alleluia: John 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: 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. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. 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.
How can anything be lacking in the sufferings of Christ? His work of redemption was complete in itself and was effected once and for all. But the application of Christ’s work is ongoing and will not be complete until the end of time, when Christ presents the church to the Father. Therefore, in the sufferings of his ministry, Paul helps to bring to completion the work of the Lord and therefore, in that sense, fills up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.
When his opponents object to Christ healing on the Sabbath, Jesus raises a fundamental question. Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than do evil? There is no response. Hence, Jesus proceeds to heal the man with the withered hand. To exclude the performance of a good deed on the Sabbath flies in the face of divine teaching.
We can apply the teaching of Colossians here as well. When through our efforts within the church, the lot of other human beings is bettered, the saving work of Christ is enhanced. When we grow weary in the service of the Lord, the work of redemption is not carried forward. Christ healed on the Sabbath. We also may do his work on the Sabbath and thus carry forth the suffering of Christ for the sake of his body, the church.
In Christ are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is him we have to proclaim with our lives and to become mature in him. May God bless you all, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!