Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, and a crippled woman was there. An evil spirit had kept her bent for eighteen years, so that she could not straighten up at all. On seeing her, Jesus called her and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” Then he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight and praised God.
But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant, because Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath day, and he said to the people, “There are six days in which to work. Come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath!”
But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath, and leads it out of the barn to give it water. And here you have a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Should she not be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?”
When Jesus said this, all his opponents felt ashamed. But the people rejoiced at the many wonderful things that happened because of him.
During the many times Jesus ruffled the feathers of the religious authorities, it was always about His healing of the sick during Sabbath, supposed to be a holy day where goodness is the supreme rule. Yet the religious customs and traditions nurtured by the spiritual elite rendered the day sterile and mournful. Even the basic impulse of human compassion was stifled in favor of the observance of the man-made laws and regulations. This kind of religious despotism did not sit well with Jesus. It is true that religion in one of its root meanings “religare” means to “bind.” But it is a binding to a yoke that is easy and light. It is a bind that frees and not oppresses. And so Jesus let loose the liberating power of the Sabbath, that is, to give the woman the rest she craved from the oppression of her sickness of eighteen years. That day was truly Sabbath for her. She gained rest by the love of Jesus that does not rest in doing good.
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