Week of Proper 18: Monday, Year 1   14 comments

Above:  Jesus Healing the Man with the Withered Hand

Image in the Public Domain

Supporting Each Other in Our Journeys Toward Achieving Our Potential



Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Colossians 1:24-2:3 (The Jerusalem Bible):

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.  I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints.  It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans.  The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory; this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ.  It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face.  It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

Psalm 62:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 For God alone my soul in silence waits;

from him comes my salvation.

2 He alone is my rock and salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.

3 How long will you assail me to crush me,

all of you together,

as if you were a leaning fence, a toppling wall?

4 They seek only to bring me down from my place of honor;

lies are their chief delight.

5 They bless with their lips,

but in their hearts they curse.

6 For God alone my soul in silence waits;

truly, my hope is in him.

7 He alone in my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

Luke 6:6-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now on another sabbath he [Jesus] went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was there whose hand was withered.  The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him.  But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand,

Stand up!  Come out into the middle.

And he came out and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them,

I put it to you; it is against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?

Then he looked round at them all and said to the man,

Stretch out your hand.

He did so, and his hand was better.  But they were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.


The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


In the Letter to the Colossians Paul writes of making all people perfect in Christ.  That, at least, is the rendering of the text in The Jerusalem Bible.  Other translations offer other English equivalents or the original Greek.  Instead of perfect they say “complete” and “mature.”  The meaning of that passage, then, is that we, in Christian community, have our identities in Christ, only in whom we can achieve our spiritual potential.

Again I repeat the theme of spiritual communitarianism.  I am redundant only because the Bible is.  Such repetition ought to prompt us to pay closer attention than we are.

So, to be concise, may we support each other in our spiritual journeys in Christ.

Speaking of potential, this time, physical…

Strict sabbath laws permitted one to save a life on that day, but required one to wait to do any more until the next day.  So Jesus violated a sabbath law in the presence of his religious enemies when he healed a man with a withered hand.  This physical disability affected the man’s ability to earn a living.  So Jesus helped the man to achieve his potential.  What could be wrong with that?  As Jesus asked, “Is it against the law on sabbath to do good…?”  No, it is not, in Jesus’ understanding of morality; it is lawful to do good every day of the week.  So, if this act violates our sabbath laws, we need to change those laws.

To repeat myself again, compassion is the trump card.

Our challenge, then, is to act compassionately to support each other spiritually and otherwise as possible whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I propose, furthermore, that the distinction between the physical and the spiritual is often a blurry zone.  We are, biologically speaking, physical beings.  Our bodies are products of evolution, a continuing process.  But we are also spiritual beings who bear the image of God.  The parts of ourselves interact, so helping someone physically can aid that person spiritually.

We have our mandate; may we obey it.



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