To Save Life or to Destroy It?

“To Save Life or to Destroy It?”
Luke 6:6-11 “in a snailshell”
Monday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 Gloria M. Chang

On another sabbath he went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

Luke 6:6-11

Irrationality of Sin

Jesus’ either/or question in Luke 6:9 bluntly challenges hearers. The Revised Standard Version preserves the Greek word order:

And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 

Sin twists the human heart designed to follow the natural principle “do good and avoid evil.” Wrestling with the irrationality of sin, the apostle Paul laments: “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (Romans 7:19). 

Out of Mind

Instead of rejoicing with their healed brother, the scribes and Pharisees become “enraged” (Luke 6:11). Other translations say “filled with madness,” “senseless rage,” “mindless rage,” “fury,” and “anger.” The word Luke uses suggests irrationality, from anoia—“no mind.”

Sign of Shalom

Free of envy and bitterness, the heart of Christ—healthy, whole, and Spirit-filled—overflows with compassion for the suffering. The healing of the man with a withered hand heralds shalom: humanity’s full restoration of body, soul, and spirit in grace.

From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace.

John 1:16

When heart and mind are out of whack,
Doubts plague whether to heal or wrack.

Traditional Chinese Translation


Related posts: 

The Heart of the Sabbath 
Out of Heart, Out of Mind
Christ Unlocks the Kingdom

3 Replies to “To Save Life or to Destroy It?”

  1. Dear GMC, Your reflection is another reason why I think of my bipolar as a blessing. I pray for all those with mental illness to give Jesus a chance to give them a healthy, whole, Spirit-filled mind. Our Lady of China pray for us.

    Whether sickly or healthy,
    when heart and mind are given over to Jesus,
    He will heal us.

      1. Dear GMC, Thank you for your reflections. You may never see the fruits of your labors. You won’t know how a word or a kindness affects another person, even another generation. For all that you do, thank you and be assured of my prayers always.

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