Am I right or self- righteous? Wednesday, 2nd Week in ordinary time – Mark 3:1-6
In Mark 1:21 Jesus entered the synagogue in Capernaum. Now, the scriptures mention that he has entered “the synagogue again.” Looking at the text in its sequence, it seems like a week has passed since the previous verse. In Mark 2:23-28, the preceding passage, we are told that it was the sabbath (Mark 2:23). At the end of that sabbath incident, Jesus asserted that “the sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the sabbath.” He also asserted that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath.” Now as if to reiterate a point, St Mark tells us of another narrative in the synagogue of Capernaum, one sabbath later. This time it is clear that the hostility has built up against Jesus for Mark emphatically tells us that “they watched him” (3:2) “so that they might accuse him.”
Our actions should never be brash or with the intent to deliberately cause scandal. However, if done with a clear conscience, then public opinion should not sway us nor influence the good that we would like to do even if it displeases many. In this case, Jesus had asserted his stance on the role of the Sabbath and now once again an act of kindness and mercy was required for a man with a withered hand who was in the synagogue. Once again Jesus appeals to common sense. “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath? To save life or to kill it?”
A heart that beats, does not need to be prompted to answer rightly. Sadly, those in the synagogue that day had become religious extremists if not liturgical terrorist. For them, the law surpassed love; rigidity took precedence over humanity! They knew that Jesus was right but they did not want to give up their right to hold a religious law that they held slavishly. This was their chance for slavish shackles to be broken but they chose the chains of religious rigidity. Scripture tells them they were silent to the question asked by Jesus when in fact applause should have been the response.
The grief over their hardness of hearts (3:5) gives way to righteous anger of Our Lord. Yes, the Lord is angry when we allow our hearts to speak less and empty rituals of faith to speak louder. Make no mistake the Lord is not condemning the sanctity of the Sabbath; he is questioning the silliness of their application of it.
When faced with a situation such as this, Jesus requires us to act rightly and justly even if the world may think less of us and judge us. Jesus broke a law for loves sake and asked the man with a withered hand to stretch it out. Technically, this did not constitute “work” on a sabbath but the Jews saw it for what they wanted to see it, as an act performed in violation of Sabbath laws. The goodness and love on the part of Our Lord now has the Pharisees go out “and conspire against him with the Herodians” (3:6) for they want to “destroy him.”
Does my faith lead me to what is right or to self-righteousness?