Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 4:32-5:8; Luke 13:10-17)
In Jesus “inaugural speech” in Nazareth, he said that God sent him “’to let the oppressed go free.’” He does exactly this in today’s gospel. The woman has been oppressed by an evil spirit for eighteen years when Jesus heals her. And she is not the only one Jesus is liberating here.
The leader of the synagogue criticizes Jesus for working a cure on the Sabbath. When Jesus hears of the complaint, he takes the official to task. He calls him a hypocrite for untying his farm animal on the Sabbath but disapproving of the woman being then unbound. The people approve both Jesus’ work and his wisdom. They are being liberated from the rigorism of the religious leader.
At times religious leaders act more as overlords than as God’s servants. They can humiliate people by their remarks. They can also withhold a desired religious service until the bidder bends to their demands. Once I saw a priest rush to the back of the church at the end of mass to make sure that no one left until the recessional hymn was finished. We should, of course, comply with the Church’s traditions as well as right morals. But we shouldn’t have to bow to authoritarian clerics.