Monday, September 10, 2018
Today, in Mercy, our Gospel finds the Pharisees once again confronting Jesus with a dilemma. It is the Sabbath, a day when any kind of “work” is prohibited. Yet, a man with a withered hand approaches Jesus needing to be cured. Should Jesus do this work?
It is the classic, Pharisaical confrontation: appearing to weigh two equal responses which in reality are incomparable – like apples and oranges. They are similar only on the surface. Their essences are quite distinct.
Jesus’ continuing debate with the Pharisees always swirls around the balance between law and spirit. The Pharisees have idolized the Law, allowing it to swallow the Spirit. Under their intransigent interpretation, the poor crippled man in today’s Gospel would have lost the chance for healing.
We call quandaries like this being “between a rock and a hard place”. The ancient Greeks called it “between Scylla and Charybdis” – an adjacent huge rock and whirlpool which threatened to swallow their ships passing through. The image powerfully captures the angst accompanying these dilemmas.
We navigate such hazards throughout our lives, facing choices which are often unclear and confusing. Our alternatives sail the wide range between “law” and “spirit”, between what seems advantageous and what seems right, between what is comfortable and what is spiritually challenging, between what is “legal” and what is just and merciful.
How do we choose according to the pattern of Christ? How do we choose forgiveness, mercy, inclusive love, peace and charity in a world that screams “Choose selfishly. You deserve it!”
Through prayer, scriptural reflection, and merciful service, our spirits absorb that Sacred Pattern of Christ. It is in the shape of the Cross. It will guide us between our Scylla and Charybdis.
Today’s song is simple, almost childlike – but that simplicity is often just what we need in the face of a dilemma.
Music: I Choose You – Libby Allen Songs