Saturday, February 27, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Transforming the Oppressive Structures
St. Luke.13:10-17
Rev Denny Philip

Carmel MTC, Boston MA

13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

On a Sabbath day, we find Jesus teaching in the synagogue. The miracle that followed is an extension or demonstration of His teaching. Like other miracle stories, here also the narration transcends a mere description to a teaching. The event that is happening on the Sabbath in the synagogue redefines the meaning of both the Sabbath and the synagogue.

Sabbath as a day of fullness and transformation: Gatherings in the synagogue on the Sabbath was going on for a long time as a ritual. This woman may have been a regular worshipper. The Sabbaths were observed as per the norms digging into details but without seeing or helping this woman for the past eighteen years. The words of the synagogue leader resonate the popular understanding of the observance of Sabbath and the need to abstain from work. But it was taken to the extent that they became obsessed with the observation that it lost its human touch and Jesus calls it hypocrisy.  Sabbath in Genesis is not a holiday for God who worked six days. Instead it’s the day that God celebrated the fullness of His creation. It’s the day that perfects the work of the six days or the day without which the six days remain incomplete. In that sense Sabbath is the perfect day for healing or bringing the person to the wholeness. But the understanding of Sabbath was distorted to the extent that it was believed that this is not a day for healing. The healing by Jesus on the Sabbath then becomes a corrective teaching thereby bringing out the real meaning of Sabbath. Jesus thus transforms Sabbath, which had become a hindrance to healing , to a healing and liberation.
Synagogue as a place of rejoicing:  The worship place is a place of joy and celebration. But this woman was never a part of that celebration. She is experiencing a bondage that prevents her looking straight at others. She was bent always looking down into herself. Her perspectives were so limited that she was never a part of that worshipping community in the synagogue. Jesus initiates the contact by calling her and touching her so that she is able to stand straight and relate to others. She is enabled to participate in and enjoy the worship in the synagogue. It created multiple responses. While it irritates the leaders who get humiliated, it makes the common people happy and they are delighted with all the wonderful things that He was doing.


God, help us to see how our blind observances have become a hindrance for transformation and make us the instrument of Your Grace. Amen.

“Worship is a way of seeing the world in the light of God.” Abraham Joshua Heschel.