October 29, 2010
Luke 14: 1 – 6
Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus meets and speaks with various groups of persons: the young, those who are ill and the poor. He shows compassion and understanding and is willing to alleviate their suffering.
In this passage from the Gospel from Saint Luke, Christ again is in the company of the sick. It is a man with dropsy. Today, this condition is known as edema and is a swelling of the limbs with fluid. It is painful and was common in biblical times.
Also present at the dinner are a number of scribes and Pharisees who are watching Jesus closely to see how He responds. For their part, they are only concerned for the Mosaic Law and its strict observance. Christ notes the fact that they did not answer the question He put to them because they have put the law above the welfare of their fellow man.
This brief episode from the Gospel offers us a timely lesson which bears repeating in our time, namely that laws are made to benefit man. They are never more important than people. This is true both of civil and ecclesiastical law. Observing religious laws does not sanctify anyone; that is the province of the Holy Spirit.
Laws given to us by the Church are necessary and important but they must be observed with the proper spirit.
May our observance of the laws given to us by the Church never lead us to imitate the behavior of the Scribes and Pharisees, and may the Holy Spirit help us to understand, appreciate and observe all laws in the proper spirit.