Tomorrow’s sermon: extract

“In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus goes into a synagogue, to take part in the prayer of his community. He is faithful in his observance, and he is obedient to his tradition. He sees a woman in need of healing, and he reaches out and touches her, and she is made strong. The leader of the synagogue berates her – notice, he berates the woman, not Jesus – for coming to worship on the Sabbath and getting healed! He is not angry because Jesus has done work on the Sabbath, because he has done something beautiful and wonderful. You can tell it from the story, because he doesn’t yell at Jesus, and anyway, Jesus shields the woman from his words and shrugs off his diatribe with disdain, and no one argues back; and besides, how would that even make sense? No, the leader of the synagogue is lashing out at the weakest one there because he is afraid. He is afraid that he has just seen God at work, and heaven knows what trouble that will bring, God knows what God will ask of him, if God truly is at work in the world, in his little world, in his small corner of the world. The leader of the synagogue doesn’t really think the woman should suffer. He is simply afraid of the burden that her freedom has just placed upon him. He has read Jeremiah and the prophets, and he knows that God is not shy of calling God’s people to account. His frightened but loud dissenting voice is hardly evidence that Jesus was wrong.”

… To be continued, Sunday August 25th, at Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio

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