On another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and began teaching. There was a man with a paralyzed right hand and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees watched him: Would Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath? If he did, they could accuse him.
But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to the man, “Get up and stand in the middle.” Then he spoke to them, “I want to ask you: what is allowed by the Law on the Sabbath, to do good or to do harm, to save life or destroy it?” And Jesus looked around at them all.
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored, becoming as whole as the other. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another how they could deal with Jesus.
In the four gospels we find no fewer than seven Sabbath-healing stories (i.e. stories about healings occurring on the Sabbath). And so, one must conclude that these healings on the Sabbath were not mere coincidences; they are too numerous for that. All the more so that Jesus can observe on each of these seven occasions how upset his enemies become when they witness his behavior. Obviously, Jesus seeks on purpose to oppose their understanding of the Sabbath. What exactly is the problem here? It is simply this. The rabbis see a healing, even a miraculous one, as a medical intervention and consequently as a working activity, something forbidden on the day of the Sabbath. Jesus challenges this view. He claims that there can be no time when it is prohibited to do good to another human being. In other words, there is no time when we are allowed to refuse to love. To refuse to love, under the specious excuse of obeying a law is at bottom to abet evil, to side with evil. This is a very serious matter.
We are all tempted at times to refuse to perform a good deed when we could easily do so, and we then justify our refusal with all kinds of excuses. But oftentimes these excuses are merely a refusal to love.
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