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“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

Fr. Scott A. Haynes


“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” (Luke 14:3) This is the question Jesus asks of the lawyers and Pharisees, and the answer would seem to be self-evident. But the lawyers and Pharisees hold their tongues and remain silent; they, in effect, refuse to answer Jesus. They know that mercy on the Sabbath is never illegal, but they choke on their own pride which will not allow them to admit it. Their desire is “to go around in long robes,” to receive “greetings in the marketplaces,” to take “the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts.” (Luke 20:46)

The Pharisees are puffed up with self-esteem and plump with self-righteousness. They will go to hell rather than be humbled before God. And so, it has been for all of human history. Look at our first parents, Adam and Eve. They had all paradise could offer: three square meals a day, temperate weather every day, the kind that many of you travel hundreds of miles each year to maintain. There was no disease, no aging, and no death. The Book of Genesis tells us that they even walked with God Himself, in the cool of the day. Yes, they had everything, but everything wasn’t enough for them. They didn’t just want to walk with God; they wanted to be God. That, my friends, is what pride will do. You see, pride is never satisfied. It is never really happy.

Today, it is easy to look back at the Pharisees and wag our fingers and wonder at their ignorance. It is just as easy to blame Adam and Eve for their pride, perhaps even more so. Sinful pride consumed them. But are we any better than they were? Are we truly so humble? St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians warns: “Take heed lest you fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) In our foolishness, pride seeks the best seat at the banquet, looking to grab it before someone else is seated there first. Pride rushes to the head of the new line at the grocery check-out without a thought for the people who were waiting there long before.

Pride looks to show off. Pride lives for glory and recognition. Pride seeks the advantage over others. Pride seeks power over others. Pride sulks over imagined hurts and slights and refuses to be reconciled until it is stroked. But remember the Book of Proverbs says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

Pride is a sin with which we all wrestle. Today let us all repent and give thanks to God that it is indeed lawful to be healed on the Sabbath, for that is, in truth, what He wishes to do at each Mass in the worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Christ the Divine Physician heals all our wounds and draws us close to his Most Sacred Heart. As St. Irenaus says:
“The Eucharist is medication for the soul.”