Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

& archive, Year C.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Amen

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The lectionary reading invites us into a synagogue on the Sabbath as Jesus is teaching. Rather than stand at the door of the narrative, the writer calls us to the front of this gathering place. If we are concerned about politeness and custom, Jesus is about to set us at ease. A woman appears at the door. Her back bent completely over, she enters the synagogue, seeking a place to sit among other women who are present. But even though Jesus is midstream in what he is teaching, he sees this crippled woman, and turns to give his full attention to her. As we watch and listen we hear him invite this woman to come to where he is seated.

In this unexpected space of welcome, she shuffles forward, her face bent to the floor.

“Woman, you are set free from your ailment,” Jesus tells her. Then, he reaches out and lays his hands on her crippled body. Quite suddenly, this disabled woman discovers she is able to stand up straight–for the first time in eighteen years! How thankful she is to God for this surprising gift of healing and relief!

But the leader of the synagogue is angry–because Jesus has broken the tradition by “working” on the Sabbath. He warns those gathered that there are six other days in the week when then can come to the synagogue for healing. But not on the Sabbath.

Jesus is not silenced by this indignant push back. Rather he speaks freedom and a larger truth into this tight-fisted inability to receive the Sabbath as a gift, a space which God tends and holds. If ox and donkey may be untied on the Sabbath and led to water, Jesus argues, how much more should a person like this woman—a daughter of Abraham–be freed from being bound in her body by Satan for these many years!

Yes, to identify with Jesus can cause division – even among those who gather in the synagogue.

The psalm and the Isaiah readings this week also call our attention to noticing and caring for those who are in bondage because of illness, hunger, homelessness, extreme poverty. To do so is to know the true meaning of the fast, the Sabbath God calls us to practice. Gradually we learn to see as God sees, to notice as Jesus notices—even in the middle of teaching a Sunday School class!

For your reflection

Take time to reflect on the kinds of oppression and bondage which weigh heavily on your shoulders at this time. In what way do you hear the invitation of Jesus to come near to receive care and relief?

Ask Jesus to help you see others as he sees, to notice as he does. How do you see? And what response is Jesus inviting you to make?

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

8/16 Monday: Luke 13:10-13
8/17 Tuesday: Luke 13:14-17
8/18 Wednesday: Psalm 71:1-6 (7-9)
8/19 Thursday: Isaiah 58:(6-9a) 9b-14
8/20 Friday: Hebrews 12:18-29
8/21 Saturday: Luke 13:10-13
8/22 Sunday: Luke 13:14-17