Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
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.
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.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death. (Mk 3:1-6)
Today’s reflection is lifted from the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) web site where they have been sponsoring a nine-day novena of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage:
Today, on this 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion and wandered far from God.
Instead of accepting children in joy and hope, many hearts seem hardened against making commitments to others, fearing the demands others may make on our time or our freedom.
We are becoming a culture marked by rejection, by loneliness and sorrow.
In today’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus grieved over the Pharisees’ hardness of heart, as he heals the man with the withered hand. They remained silent when Jesus pointedly asked them: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Our laws now make it legal to destroy life by abortion, by abortifacient drugs, in destructive embryo research, in the course of in vitro fertilization procedures, and in some states by assisted suicide and the death penalty. How Jesus must grieve over this culture of death! Let us open our hearts in faith, entrusting our culture to the healing power of Christ, the One who has overcome sin and the power of evil.
FAITH ACTION: Today is a day of prayer and penance for restoration of the right to life. Step out of your comfort zone and witness publicly to life in a march or rally, or call your elected representatives to ask them to promote policies and laws that respect life. If that is somehow not possible, consider this: Gratitude helps us love God and neighbor. Today try to not complain or be negative. Say a prayer of thanksgiving instead.