REFLECTION FOR TODAY
October 25, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?” Lk. 13:14-15.
Every encounter with Jesus always brings great healing and dignity. This is because Jesus does not see us the way other sees us. In the eyes of Jesus, we are of great value, and we waste no time in restoring what was lacking in us.
In our gospel reference above, the leader of the synagogue was “indignant” at Jesus for curing a woman on the sabbath who had been crippled and by virtue, stripped of her human dignity for eighteen years. For this synagogue leader, such healing shouldn’t be done on a sabbath which was meant for rest. His scrupulosity had further blinded him to love.
Scrupulosity is the tendency to see God and His holy will through the lens of legalism. “Legalism” is not just being faithful to the Law of God, because that is a good thing. Legalism is a misinterpretation of God’s Law by which one tends to put more emphasis upon themselves than upon God.
A scrupulous person is preoccupied with themself. They tend to be far more concerned with sin than with God Himself. And though it’s vital to be concerned with sin, when fear of sinning becomes a form of obsession, then that obsession has the effect of clouding the pure will of God and leaves a person heavily burdened and unable to joyfully live out the authentic will of God.
The synagogue leader was obviously blinded by hypocrisy from his scrupulosity, he could not see what was happening before his very eyes. The kingdom of God had come with great power calling him to freedom of being a son of God. But he missed it by a wide margin because of his narrow view of how God would work: for him God will only heal during the working week and not on an official day of rest.
Sometimes as Christians, we are like the synagogue leader, blinded by command and duties and unable to perceive the priority of love. We may become hash and judgmental to the point that we don’t see the how valuable we and others really are in the eyes of God.
Reflect, today, upon any tendency you may have with these heavy burdens. Do you worry in an irrational way about sin? Do you ever find yourself obsessing over decisions, worrying that you may make the wrong one? Do you think about yourself far more than you think about God and others? If so, you may also be carrying a similar heavy burden that our Lord wants to lift. Serving God and His holy will must become the deepest joy of our lives, not a heavy burden. If you find your Christian walk more of a burden, then turn your eyes away from yourself and look to the merciful God. Run to Him with the utmost confidence of a child, as Saint Thérèse eventually did, and allow yourself to love Him more authentically, freed of scrupulous and self-imposed burdens.
Lord, You desire to free me from all that burdens me. You desire that I turn to You with the confidence of a child. Please do free me, dear Lord, from any way that I impose burdens upon myself by my obsessions and irrational worries. May I always understand Your infinite love for me and always walk freely and joyfully in Your ways. Jesus, I trust in You.