Set Free on the Sabbath

“Set Free on the Sabbath”
Luke 13:10-17 “in a snailshell”
Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 Gloria M. Chang

He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Luke 13:10-17

Mercy on the Sabbath

What is the Sabbath if not a celebration of life and love?

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.

Genesis 2:3

On the seventh day, the sun, moon, stars, plants, birds, animals, fish, and humans blessed the Lord in a great chorus of praise. None were bound and parched in observance of God’s Sabbath rest.

The scribes and Pharisees naturally watered their donkeys and oxen on the Sabbath. But when it came to healing the crippled woman in the synagogue, legalese complicated their minds. 

Just as laws forbidding “work” on the Sabbath honored God, freeing the woman fulfilled true worship. Jesus’ homey comparison of his act of mercy to untying and watering an ox or ass drove the point home at once. Law, life, love, and mercy are synonymous.

“How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!
Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12:12 (NIV)

Sabbath laws unbinding ox and ass
Free man and woman, laddie and lass.

Traditional Chinese Translation


6 Replies to “Set Free on the Sabbath”

  1. Jesus’ homey example to teach a lesson shows he knew how to speak the language of his audience. Likewise, Christ speaks to each one of us in our language with homey lessons. I heard the use of “lads” and “lassies” often when we travelled in Ireland years ago. One day as we were leaving our hospitable B&B our hostess called out, “Have ye got all your bits and pieces?”
    That’s one we repeat to each other before we leave our home. Some words have a way into our hearts!

  2. Dear GMC, Your reflection makes me think – how were an ox and an ass unbounded by the rule yet human beings remained “strangled.” Jesus shows us that charity to one another is more important than rules. He teaches us this big lesson in a small act of charity and love to the woman. May we take note and follow Him. Thank you for your reflection which brings these truths out so keenly. You help me live my life in gratitude to God’s mercy to me. Thank you, GMC.

    1. Loss of simplicity and a departure from oneness of mind and heart with God are part of the mystery. Law binds back what was divided and broken, but was not meant to strangle. Law is order: the order of divine tranquility, light, and love. Law is as God is, and God is Love.

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