The woman had been suffering from her condition for eighteen long years. However, Jesus' opponents demanded that He wait for one more day, after the Sabbath, to cure her. But, considering she had already remained for eighteen years, couldn't Jesus wait for just one more day?
For the Pharisees at the time of Jesus, the care of the sick was considered work and, therefore, was forbidden on the Sabbath unless there was a proximate danger of death. In this example, it is evident that the miraculous cure of a sick woman is assimilated into a form of care and is, therefore, condemned as a working activity. But in their narrow-minded interpretation of the law of the Sabbath, these men do not realize how illogical they have become. They see no difficulty in "working" for the sake of their animals by untying them and taking them out to water them—mere beasts—yet they object to Jesus untying one who was tied down for 18 years. Eighteen years!
Making Our Debut
These days, I follow the Cricket World Cup, which happens once every four years. I see many new players making their debut in the Cricket World Cup, playing for their country at the World Cup for the first time. Curing of the woman in the Gospel today, if this were in our social world or the cricketing world, the occasion would be a debut: a young lady's official introduction to society, or this may be no debut. Here, the number refers to the time the woman, extending beyond her teen years, was bent in pain — physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. But then again, maybe it was — a debut. A different one, though.
It was an introduction to the society of God, a debut to Jesus's team; to his playing eleven players as one would in a cricket game. Jesus relieved her of her pain and deformity and restored her to the dignity and satisfaction of feeling and being recognized as the daughter of God that she always was. Except that now, the noble reality is matched by a straight and tall and happy stance, an exciting debut.
Standing Upright by Grace
You and I may be eight or eighty today or eighteen or another in-between age. We may not be physically bent as the woman of the Gospel was. But who knows, maybe we do; perhaps there is always something that bends us low and keeps us from standing to our full height as children of God. It may be like the hypocrisy that the Pharisee shows; it may be selfishness and narrow-mindedness; it may be pride or lust; it may be anything. Physically, we may stand tall, but emotionally and spiritually, we have been made small, crippled, and hunched over by our sins.
Today, by the grace of this Gospel, let us ask the Lord Jesus also to heal us of our deformity and hypocrisy. Made whole and restored to our fullness, may we respond with a skip and a smile and a yes to our Lord's invite: "Now that you can stand straight, are you ready to make a debut in Jesus' team?"
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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.
Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.