A CRIPPLED WOMAN HEALED (Fr Varghese Paul, S.J.)

Only the evangelist Luke gives the story of the crippled woman Lukes narration shows that he is not only a physician but he is also a person with a keen sense of history The detail of the miraculous healing of the crippled woman shows Lukes sense of history and his professional knowledge as a physician

Let us read Lukes account: One Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue A woman there had an evil spirit that had made her ill for eighteen years, she was bent over and could not straighten up at all When Jesus saw her, he called out to her, Woman, you are free from your illness! He placed his hands on her, and at once she straightened herself up and praised God (Lk 13, 10-13)

Here Luke as a physician and historian has narrated the sickness of the crippled woman That woman has suffered her sickness as a crippled person for 18 long years She was bent over and could not stand erect at all But her sickness does not defeat her She does not blame God and everyone else for her sickness In spite of being bent she walks to the village synagogue as any other Jewish man and woman She takes part in the prayer service of the synagogue and joining the faithful worshippers praising God for everything

Jesus while touring from village to village and preaching the kingdom God, reaches the village of the crippled woman and goes to the village synagogue as his custom was Like Jesus and his disciples there is also a small group of religious leaders who have mingled with the villagers and reached the synagogue They are some Pharisees and scribers, the detractors of Jesus, bent to trap him whenever and whenever they can catch Jesus at fault

The official of the synagogue is also part of the small band Jesus knows well that his detractors are also present and that they are watching him But Jesus does not care for them He is bent on going on the path his Father had entrusted him

Jesus sees the crippled woman in the midst of the worshippers He calls the crippled woman to come close to him She cannot straighter up herself The woman has heard of people saying many things about Jesus So she obeys Jesus places his hands on her and tells her, Woman, you are free from your illness!

At once the crippled woman straightens herself up and praises God for her healing

Perhaps the healed woman may have praised God in the words of Hannahs prayer in the Old Testament with which all Jewish people are familiar

The Lord has filled my heart with joy;
How happy I am because of what he had done!

I laugh at my enemies;
how joyful I am because
God has helped me! (1 Samuel 2, 1)

Perhaps the woman must have known Marys song of praise in the New Testament and sang the song praising God:

My heart praises the Lord;
My soul is glad because of God my Saviour,
for he has remembered me, his lowly servant! (Lk 1, 46-48)

We see on one side the healed crippled woman and the worshippers praising God for the miraculous healing and on the other side that group of the detractors of Jesus who are angry or perhaps secretly happy because Jesus has broken the Sabbath law of no work and they can catch him Two totally different reactions!

In stead of joining the villagers in praising God together with the healed cripple woman, detractors of Jesus led by the Synagogue official express their anger The Synagogue official says angrily not to Jesus but to woman, There are six days in which we should work; so come during those days and be healed, but not he Sabbath! (Lk 13, 14)

Jesus sees well the hypocrisy of his detractors He is a person calling spade a spade So he encounters the Synagogue official and other detractors calling them hypocrites Luke writes, The Lord answered him, You hypocrites! Any one of you would untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and take it out to give it water on the Sabbath Now here is this descendant of Abraham whom Satan has kept bound up for eighteen years; should she not be released on the Sabbath? (Lk 13, 15-16)

To expose the hypocrisy of his detractors Jesus recalls to them an example from their own lives On Sabbath day they take out their oxen and donkeys to give them water Yet such work is not considered as breaking the Sabbath law It is all the more reasonable that a sick woman for 18 long years is healed

The detractors of Jesus was so ashamed of themselves that Luke notes, His answer made enemies ashamed of themselves, while the people rejoiced over all the wonderful things that he did (Lk 13, 17)

The response of Jesus to the whole situation shows that Jesus respects the no-work law of Sabbath but there are more important things like mercy and compassion calling for service on a Sabbath day In our big and small spiritual and material needs let us go to Jesus He will certainly come to our help (words 883, contact the author: ciss@satyamnetin)

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ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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