Scripture: 1st Reading: Rom8,12-17; Resp. Psalm: Ps68,2,4,6-7,20-21; Gosp. Accl.: Jn17,17; Gospel: Lk13,10-17
Human nature is powerful. It directs and controls normal life. It determines what we do and how we do them. It is a very good ally for good. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes a handy ally for evil deeds and desires. Without the assistance of grace that comes from God, our nature dominates and we fall into terrible mistakes with grave consequences for ourselves and others.
The flesh is a biblical imagery that is used to represent our human nature. Our first reading today tells us that having been brought to faith in Christ, we are no longer debtors of the flesh. We are not to live according to the dictates of our flesh. The word today teaches and instructs us that if we live according to the flesh, we die but if we live according to the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body, then we live.
The important lesson here is that the Spirit gives life. When we live according to the Spirit, we receive the spirit of sonship, we become free from slavery of the flesh, we are children of God and co-heirs with Christ. We are set free from the vitiated nature that holds us down. We become free to live wholly for God.
This was the freedom that our Lord brought to all when He came into this world. Our Lord brought freedom from sin, the oppressions of sickness, weakness and death. The hypocritical attitudes and dispositions of the Pharisees about the Sabbath were not enough to deter our Lord from healing and setting free the woman who had been in terrible infirmity for eighteen years.
For our Lord, the Sabbath was important and should be kept as a day of joy, gladness, celebration of God's liberation and salvation. The Sabbath was intended to be for the overall good of man, to promote man's closer submission and acknowledgement of the deeds of God in his affairs. The Sabbath was not intended as an oppressive day, a day of mourning and sadness.
Everything must therefore serve the good of man, promote his well being, advance his closer union with his Maker. Our Lord saw that the long years of this woman did nothing to promote her overall well being. To bring her closer to the source of her being, our Lord healed her on the Sabbath, the most apt day of deliverance and freedom. Our Lord called her sickness a bondage from which she was finally loosened.
That release and freedom is what our Lord intends for each of us. Our Lord wants to set us free from the oppression of sin, weaknesses, ill health and sicknesses, death and eternal damnation and annihilation. He offers that freely to all persons who turn to Him with their hearts. In this, He reveals Himself as the God who saves and the God who bears our burdens. He reveals Himself as our Saviour and Defender.
Let us pray: God our Saviour, we thank you for the deliverance you won for us through your Son. Give us your grace to understand fully the implications of the freedom and salvation won for us at so great a price. Increase our faith in the efficacy of your power to make the needed difference and bring us the desired succour in the difficult situations of our lives. Let us experience your closeness and relief. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.