Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
September 5th, 2011

Eileen Wirth

Journalism Department
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Monday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time
[437] Colossians 1:24-2:3
Psalm 62:6-7, 9
Luke 6:6-11

When I was growing up in the pre-Vatican II Church, we did a lot of hair splitting. Did that piece of pork floating in the can of beans put the whole can off limits on a Friday? If you didn’t have a hat or a chapel veil, was it sinful to enter a church as a bareheaded female? Was talking in church a venial sin? I remember tossing out the piece of pork so we could eat the beans, scrounging for a tissue to cover my head and regularly confessing that I had talked in church.

Now as I sit in bareheaded in church, chatting with friends before Mass and eating anything on Friday, these concerns seem bizarre. They also illustrate how good people can forget that Jesus cared about the spirit of the law, not obsessively obeying literal rules. Few passages illustrate this better than today’s lovely reading from Luke.

I picture myself sitting in that synagogue (if women were allowed) being blown away by Jesus’ compassion and common sense as he cures a deformed man on the Sabbath in defiance of the rule police. As one whose sex guaranteed inferior status, I would probably have followed Jesus on the spot for risking punishment on behalf of someone on the bottom.

The message Jesus sends is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago: if we hurt people by following a law literally, we actually break that law.  Like Jesus we need to worry about the impact on people of what we do rather than following rules to the letter. Jesus could hardly be more different than the doctrinaire people who have claimed to speak for him throughout the ages. Time after time we see him saving people from legal purists. The woman about to be stoned for adultery comes instantly to mind.
The Jesus I follow calls us to be compassionate to people of all backgrounds as he was.  On judgment day, the Jesus who defied the rule police to cure on the Sabbath is not going to ask us to recite rules or quiz us on theology. However, I expect him to know when we did or didn’t feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked etc. Those are the “rules” that we who call ourselves Christians had better take literally.

By the way, I recently saw some horrific pictures of suffering people in Somalia and writing this reflection prompted me to send a check to Jesuit Refugee Service. Will you join me? Click here: making a gift online  and typing “East Africa Drought” in the comment box.
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