Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

The curse of the law

Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. Mk 3,1-6

In his public life Jesus has gradually revealed himself as the Messiah, growing in the disciples and in part of the Jewish world of his time the conviction that he came to the earth to save the mankind from the sin and that he was the Lord of the sabbath. In the yesterday’s gospel he has merely let the disciples to take some ear of corn, while crossing a field on the sabbath day; today, again on saturday, he definitely enters into the synagogue and he heals the withered hand of this man. His attitude upsets the whole context of the synagogue; the pharisees, who so far have been limited themselves to raise criticisms and to call him a blasphemer, today they form an alliance even with the herodians, their hated rivals, but to eliminate him. It is a political alliance, as always there have been in the history, which the herodians accept only to acquire some credits with the pharisees. This alliance resurfaces in our school memories the alliance which Cavour made with the french, when he decided to fight in Crimea, a war only instrumental to his political intentions. But why the pharisees are so stubbornly stuck to the law and to the respect for the sabbath? Perhaps, because they compliance with their traditions, they have the illusion of being able to drive out God from the humanity: they do  not accept that he is part of it. Jesus does not answer to the pharisees with legal matters, but he explains to them the saving significance of this miracle and, with it, the sense of all his messianic work. In this passage the essence of what is the curse of the law, when not dedicated to the human welfare, is captured. Those pharisees, the ones that we risk now to be ourselves, by appealing to the law would like to leave that man in his illness. It is the hardness of heart, not the justice – Jesus says today – which prevents to go beyond the law, seeing in every human being a son of God, not just a legal entity. Perhaps, by meditating this page of the gospel, we have understood a bit more about the mission of our son Gianluca, among the illegal immigrants in Castelvolturno.

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