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January 17

FOCUS:  Christian discipleship requires courage.


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Today’s readings reveal Jesus’ true purpose as the Son of God. Like the Pharisees, we must answer the question, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Do we treat our faith in human terms, like the Pharisees, or do we respond to Jesus’ healing power with the humility of David, trusting our very lives to God’s presence within us?

Goliath was a fearsome and experienced warrior who was fully armed and ready for battle.  David, on the other hand, was a young and inexperienced shepherd boy.  From a human point of view, David had no chance against Goliath. The actions and words of David, however, reveal the depths of his faith in God and his love for God.  David trusted completely in the Lord.  He knew that just as the Lord saved him from wild animals, he would save him from the clutches of Goliath.  In a way, David’s victory over Goliath prefigures Jesus’ victory over Satan. It is a victory that comes through humility of heart, confidence in God, and obedience to God’s word.

The fact that Jesus cured a man with a withered hand recalls the image of Adam, who by stretching out his hand to take the fruit of the tree in Eden, committed an act of disobedience.  The original sin of disobedience withered the hand of humanity and broke communion with God.  Jesus is the obedient Son of God, who cures the withered hand of humanity and restores humanity, us, to communion with God.  Jesus heals on the Sabbath and exercises his lordship over the Sabbath by undoing the effects of sin and inaugurating the new creation.  Our Sabbath is Sunday, the day to “keep holy” by focusing on giving glory to God our creator, participating with Jesus in His death and resurrection, and being strengthened and renewed in our love by receiving the Eucharist.

Jesus is grieved at the Pharisee’s hardness of heart. They rejected God’s merciful love and plan of salvation. Instead, they respond by planning to put Jesus to death.  Is Jesus grieving because of our own hardness of heart? Do we trust Him with every bit of our lives like David, or do we reject Him and use the tools of destruction the world provides like the Philistine Goliath?

How do we respond to Jesus’ merciful love and power to change our lives? One way we answer that question is to look at what we do on Sunday. Do we honor Jesus for undoing the effects of sin and death by His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday? Do we use Sunday to be restored to “communion” with Him?

Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection

How is Jesus calling you to do good on the Sabbath (Sunday), to save lives rather than destroy them?

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