The Religion that Oppresses
Reading: Luke 13:10-17
And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, “There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him, and said, “Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
Throughout all that we have been reading, Jesus has been emphasising, again and again, what the Kingdom of God is really like. And it often shows us the wonder of the freedom of the Gospel, contrasting it with the hypocrisy of religion that is not centered on the true God and service to his creatures but on selfishness and personal interests.
In today’s reading, we see a woman, oppressed by a spirit, suffering enslaved to this ailment for years; one word from Jesus was the only thing necessary for her to experience freedom.
The reaction of the ruler of the synagogue? It was not joy of seeing the work of God in one of His children, but on the contrary, anger at what he considers a violation of the commandment to keep the Lord’s day, the Sabbath.
Jesus does not say that it is wrong to keep the day of rest (it is a commandment from the Lord), but He confronts the religious leaders in their hypocrisy. How is it possible that they are outraged that a woman is healed on this day, but do not consider doing wrong to attend to the needs of their animals?
They were left ashamed, with the meanness of their hearts exposed before everyone.
But let us look at the reaction of the people. The crowd rejoiced. Because the religion of the Pharisees was a heavy burden, a list of meaningless ordinances, which instead of helping to know God produced remoteness.
The religion of men burdens you with commandments, takes you away from God… The Gospel calls for a more radical and profound holiness, a higher standard than religiosity. And yet it frees…
MEDITATE: Many times it is very easy to fall into religiousness, imposing a useless burden on our lives, and worse, on others. Only the Gospel of Jesus makes you holy, it leads you to God. God bless you!