Monday, September 5, 2016

Today is the Memorial of Pere Lataste

Lectio Divina for   Monday, September 5, 2016:

Lectio

On a certain sabbath Jesus 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. (Lk 6:6-11)


It could be claimed that the Pharisees planted the man with the crippled hand to lure Jesus into breaking the Sabbath’s law against working on this day of rest. That is really not a concern because Jesus is going to use the opportunity to teach that truth and law are meant to free people in life and their worship of God, and not hinder people. God’s law is to help, to open up access for all people, to allow a relationship to develop between God and His people.

6:6 Jesus, as was His custom on the Sabbath, went to the synagogue to teach. Teaching involved reading scripture and explaining the text. In this account, Jesus is shown going beyond the reading by showing how Jesus interacts with people. He literally demonstrates His teaching.

The Pharisees were observing Jesus “closely”. They were not there to learn and enjoy. They were there to find fault. Of course, Jesus knows this, but He has a purpose. He asked the crippled man to “Come up and stand before us.” The poor man, because he was crippled, was probably sitting in the back with the women and children. Those in the back weren’t participating in the lessons; they only listened. But Jesus invites the crippled man to come up and participate in the teaching.

Once the man had risen, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” The restoration of a withered hand would indicate the long hoped for restoration of Israel which the Messiah would bring. The way Jesus asked this question—either-or—you can either save a life or destroy it, reveals that there are only two options when it comes to helping the people and being part of the Kingdom of God. Help and you are in the Kingdom. To do nothing is to separate yourself from God. The Pharisees had always debated this law, among themselves. Here Jesus is teaching them the correct answer. People are more important than Jewish law.

Jesus “looked around at them all.” No one answered. Jesus healed the man. Because of the healing, the Pharisees “were enraged.”

This reveals that the Pharisees didn’t see the man. They saw a theological argument. They saw the Sabbath law broken. Worse, they missed seeing God at work. The Pharisees were so intent on catching Jesus breaking the Sabbath that they had closed their minds, eyes, and hearts from showing love and mercy towards another human being.

6:11 The passage ends with the Pharisees plotting evil.

The Pharisees’ not seeing the man with the withered hand as a broken man in need of healing, fits in with today’s memorial for the Order of Preachers. Blessed Pere Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. Pere Lataste was beatified in 2012, as the Apostle of Prisons. As a new preacher, he was assigned to give a retreat to the women in Cadillac Prison, 1864. He initially entered Cadillac prison like the Pharisees who didn’t see the man who needed healing. He went into the prison expecting to waste his time on hardened, dissolute women. But Jesus healed these women much like he healed the withered hand. The women were touched and restored. In fact, some of these women, with Pere Lataste, began the religious order, the Dominican Sisters of Bethany. This Order inspires us to forgive, love, hope and have mercy, because former prisoners are welcomed there. The sisters don’t look at withered hands, only the healed present and future hope.

Litany for those in Prison

Lord have mercy on me

When I can’t accept the past: When I feel all locked up: When I despair: When I can’t forgive: When I feel the world hates me: When I am lonely: When the day never ends: When I am overshadow by darkness: When I’ve lost hope: When I have no one: When I hurt: When I fall into sin: When I am afraid: When I see no point to living: When problems overwhelm: When I am judged: When You seem distant:

Closing Prayer

O Merciful God, I see You tortured and thrown into prison. I see You shamed in Your nakedness before the crowd. I see the confused hurt in Your Mother’s eyes. Help me Lord in Your compassion to keep my faith, and hope to be with You in paradise. I love You. You are all I have. It is in Your Eucharist that I taste Your sweetness. We become One. May I have the grace to feel the effects of Your Redemption forever.

Contemplatio: 
Your withered hand does not define you.  You are God’s precious child.

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