A reading from the gospel according to Mark 3:1-6:
1 Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand.
2 They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.
3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.”
4 Then he said to the Pharisees, “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.
5 Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
6 The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
Reflection: Doing good everywhere anytime
The gospel reading above tells us the second time that Jesus was confronted with the question of working on a Sabbath. Previously, we read about the disciples of Jesus gathering food on Sabbath. This time, it was Jesus Himself who “broke the law” by curing a man with a withered hand inside a synagogue on a Sabbath.
In this reading, Mark tells us that Jesus was angry and grieving at the Pharisees’ hardness of heart. Indeed, it is unconscionable for religious leaders to be obsessed with laws and traditions rather than doing what is right and showing compassion to others. This is an important lesson for the religious leaders of our time. Following rules is one thing but being compassionate is more important. People especially the lost, the least and the last should be at the center of their mission. If they want to attract more people to their congregations, their actions and behavior should mirror the Lord.
Like Jesus, we are angry and we grieve at the lack of compassion in our society today especially by authorities. People are dying for lack of proper care. Government resources are not properly allocated so that the sick should be attended to. Worse, some officials pocket the people’s money and red tape delays the flow of assistance to people who need help the most. In this time of pandemic, this kind of situation is pretty obvious.
On the other hand, there are modern-day Pharisees. They have become the stumbling block for the building of a compassionate society. Instead of helping, they accuse those who are actually doing good of many imaginary violations of the law. Perhaps they are jealous or afraid of being relegated to oblivion.
This reading and its lessons are not just for religious and political leaders. It is actually for everyone. Jesus is showing us that doing what is right should have no boundaries in place and in time, meaning everyone is called to do good everywhere, every time. Even as we try to be obey the laws and adhere to traditions, they should never hinder us from giving help out of compassion. Moreover, let us never allow modern-day Pharisees to discourage nor prevent us from truly following the example of Jesus.