My Beloved the benevolent
I would like to congratulate you on the beginning of the Great Lent; wishing you a holy, blessed and accepted fast before the Lord.
The fast is a special time for growth in repentance, life of prayer and holy worship as well as growth in benevolence towards everyone.
Benevolence depends on an enlightened mind to appreciate the importance and meaning of benevolence. Thus, I would like to contemplate on the miracle of the healing of the woman with an infirmity who suffered for eighteen years; the story of this healing is mentioned in Luke 13:10-17.
St. Luke said that Christ the Lord was teaching at one of the synagogues on the Sabbath and a woman was there who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, who was bent over and could in no way raise herself up; but when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” and He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” Lu. 13:10-13 Christ had compassion on this sick woman who came to the synagogue to worship and didn’t think of asking to be healed; but Christ took the initiative to call her and heal her with one sentence out of His pure mouth, “Woman you are loosed from your infirmity.” Lu. 13:12 And He laid His hands on her. Lu.13:13 This was not just a sickness that this woman suffered, but she had a spirit of infirmity such that the Lord Christ said, “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”Lu.13:16 This woman represents humanity that Satan had under bondage and made weak, bent over, unable to stand straight, unable to live in righteousness, and unable to obey God completely. Thus, Christ came to save humanity from the bondage of Satan and heal it from its weakness. The woman felt the great deed that Christ did to her; thus, St. Luke said, “she was made straight, and glorified God.” Lu. 13:13
The multitude who were gathered rejoiced as St. Luke said, “All his adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” Lu. 13:17 But the one person who was not rejoicing was the one who should have been the first of those to rejoice: the ruler of the synagogue. When this ruler saw that the woman was healed and that she rejoiced and glorified God, he was not rejoicing for her but indignant. Why? Because Christ healed her on the Sabbath (Lu. 13:14) He was not indignant because the woman was healed or because Christ healed her, but because he healed her on the Sabbath. The ruler of the Synagogue expressed his indignation by reciting the commandment of keeping the Sabbath which God gave to the people in the Ten Commandments, “There are six days on which men ought to work (Ex 20:9); therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” Lu. 13:14 The ruler of the synagogue did not realize the true meaning of the Sabbath commandment, because the Pharisees and Jewish rulers put many rules to keeping the Sabbath and rules as to what should be done and what ought not to be done on the Sabbath. When they focused on these rules, they forgot the true meaning of the commandments and the Sabbath. They became sad and indignant about the healing of the sick and the comfort of the needy on the Sabbath because their minds were darkened by the superficial and didn’t realize the essence of the commandment.
The Sabbath means rest; and the commandment regarding the Sabbath was given for the purpose of human comfort and not to suffer. Thus, Christ said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” Mk.2:27 He also said, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Matt. 12:8 The commandment of the Sabbath is for man to rest but it was an expression of true rest in Christ Jesus. St. Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews indicates to true rest, “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Heb.4:10-11
Let us ask God during this period of the Great Lent to grant us an enlightened mind to understand the essence of His commandments and not stand as the ruler of the Synagogue did in front of the outward image – the superficial practices – and fall into what he fell into with indignation and anger. The mind enlightened by Christ’s Light and the work of the Holy Spirit rejoices in the rejoicing of others and is happy for any person who is freed from Satan’s bondage and is getting close to God.
Let us be careful not to be like those of the circumcision when they heard that St. Peter accepted Cornelius and those were with him; who were the first among the gentiles to come to Christ. The Book of Acts says, “And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Acts 11:2-3
Let us be diligent in benevolence with hearts filled with love and enlightened minds. May the Lord bless your offerings for supporting Santa Verena Charity programs.