Miracles with maximum drama
A Reflection for Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
“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.’” (Lk 13:10-17)
There’s no doubt about it, Jesus had great timing—in another life, maybe he would have made a terrific stand-up comedian. I haven’t done an official count, but I think a disproportionate amount of his miracles take place on a sabbath, setting up the potential for maximum drama with the religious authorities of the day.
Jesus knows that timing is one of the ways in which we can put God in a box, and he wants to shake us out of it. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus heals a woman on the sabbath who had suffered a debilitating condition for 18 years. The leader of the synagogue was “indignant” at Jesus’ action—or more precisely, for the timing of his action.
I understand the synagogue leader’s response because all too often it looks like my response to Jesus. “This Gospel stuff is all well and good, but not right at this moment.” How many times do we shove the Gospel to the back of our minds in the face of suffering?
It is always the right time for God. It is always the right time to live the Gospel. The kingdom of God exists in the eternal present.
When I was entering college and beginning to encounter God in a personal way through prayer, I began to experience a sense of consolation in my prayer and a deep desire to spend more time with God in silence. These experiences were real and wonderful. But they also made my life confusing. Outside those periods of prayer, I struggled to give any kind of meaningful witness to the Gospel among my friends, and I often sacrificed that Gospel for fitting in among a comfortable friend group. I was often unable to imagine a world in which I lived as a truly integrated person—acting as the same person in each facet of my life.
For me, this tension between a “right” and “wrong” time to live the Gospel continues to be an internal struggle. But Jesus wants to free us from this idea, as he wanted to teach the religious authorities of his day. It is always the right time for God. It is always the right time to live the Gospel. The kingdom of God exists in the eternal present and invites each of us to participate in each moment of our lives.