As I was reading yesterday’s Gospel, Mark 3: 1-10, I was struck by the reaction of the Jewish leaders to Jesus.
They were watching Him to see if He would cure someone on the Sabbath. They wanted to use something against Him.
The Sabbath was a day of rest, a day of reflection, a day when you stopped normal activities and reflected. This was, of course, a very good thing. It is still a very good thing to do!
However, by the time of Jesus’ lifetime it had lost some of its original intent, and had become very rigid and, for many, a formality.
Curing a man on the Sabbath would have hardly taken away from centring one’s thoughts about God, and indeed rather help one reflect on the goodness of God! Instead, the Jewish leaders were using an action of God against God!
Rigidity and blind adherence to ideology is so different from who Jesus was.
Jesus tried to engage with the leaders, and they said nothing. We are told in the Gospel that Jesus was grieved to find them so obstinate!
He cured the man and then their reaction was to discuss how to destroy Jesus!
Fear can influence people to act in a non-compassionate, rigid, and narrow way.
When I look at some of the reactions to Vatican II and Pope Francis, I believe that they originate from this fear and over commitment to ideology.
The Gospel is, of course, very challenging to us as Christians, we need to let it ‘convert’ us.
There are those who will act out of ethics on the run, i.e., act out of pragmatic moral decisions instead of those based on a solid Christian position. There are those who have a very subjective and wishy-washy attitude to Christian practise. This, of course, is also not what Jesus was about.
He respected the ‘law of God’ very dearly, but also said that the ‘law’ is for people not people for the ‘law’.
Without watering down basic principles, He acted out of compassion and walked with people wherever they were and helped them to continue growing and to move on in true freedom. He also told people to sin no more.
In our own individual lives, it is so important that we have a flexible and compassionate attitude towards others. We need to be empathetic and non-judgmental, without watering down basic principles of faith and morality.