Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand

One sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2:23 – 3:6 

We are in very troubled times and some people are very afraid about the political and governmental changes that are to come. Whatever happens, sick people still need to be made well, prisoners visited and released from the binds, the vulnerable embraced and compassion increased. We can protest and we must pray, we can be outraged but we must be self-critical as well. The holy will remain holy in these times, no matter what humans can do. I expect I will be doing a good deal of praying in the coming days.

The religious leaders were upset by the disciples' behavior. Jesus reminded them of God's actions and God's priorities. The love of God empowers us to forgive and heal, to welcome refugees and shelter the vulnerable and homeless. God's love never demands us to be judgemental and cruel, nor does it make us fussy, exclusive and shaming. Jesus reaches out to us through history and through troubled times and implores us do the work of love today.

Today I ask God to help me be present and not to withdraw in had times. May we be ever moved to compassion, ever ready to serve and welcome, always ready to love with all we have been given, and constantly stretching out our hands to those in need around us.

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