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” (Lk 6:9-10).
This wonderful gift of healing, Jesus restoring a man’s withered hand, meant that he could move from the peripheries, come in from the shadows. He had a potential now of being able to work, to provide for himself and his family. This is good news! Yet, there are those within the onlookers, some of the scribes and Pharisees were blinded to this gift of grace. Instead of feeling any compassion for the man and his condition, they clung to the law as a mallet. They “became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus” (Lk 6:11).
The Jewish law of honoring the Sabbath was to practice a time of renewal and honoring God. Indifference to the suffering of this man with the withered hand and others would not be giving honor to God, to resist healing this man, Jesus showed would be committing evil in the sight of God. Jesus showed those in his midst that those who would side with not healing this man were in fact not honoring God, but they were honoring the law for the sake of the law. They were honoring their external religious expressions, while their hearts were stained by darkness.
Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets, when he shared that the greatest commandment is to, “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27). This means that our starting point in addressing each other is to respect the dignity of the person. This is the foundation of any law, policy, or action we are to put into practice.
We can see too many ways in which our choices, actions, and policies do not live up to this foundational principal of loving God, ourselves and our neighbors as ourselves. One example is the right to choose. This is a valuable expression of our free will. Yet, when the ending of the life within the womb is a viable option, we have gone astray. While at the same time, too many who speak up for the rights and dignity that are to be afforded to the unborn remain indifferent to the very real factors that would lead someone to take the life of their own child.
A few of the conditions that could lead someone to choose against carrying a child to term are living with financial instability, age of the mother, lack of support and assistance to raise the child, health issues, trauma surrounding the conception such as incest and rape, as well as external pressures from friends and families to have an abortion. Even deeper is the lack of understanding that the life being taken is really a human being, the only difference is that they are smaller and more vulnerable.
If we are to support the dignity of the unborn, we need to also support the dignity of the born. To abstractly say no to abortion, yet to be indifferent to the needs of the mothers and those engaged fathers, who struggle with this decision, is supporting the reality that more lives will not come to term. We need to be aware and willing to accompany those in need around us, be willing to provide help, the education and counseling that is needed, as well as push to enact policies that provide an empowering support network where women and men can choose the life of their child before and after birth. May we, like Jesus reaching out to the man with the withered hand, support the dignity of the person from the womb, through each stage of life, until natural death.
Photo: From video clip – http://www.extremenaturalhealthnews.com/life-in-the-womb/