Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God (Lk 13:1013).
In reading this Gospel passage, we see again the compassion and mercy of Jesus. He was aware and saw the need of the crippled woman, called her to himself, she came, and through his words and the laying on of his hands, the woman was healed. He did so without hesitation, knowing that since he was healing on the sabbath this would bring further scrutiny and criticism. Yet, Jesus did not think of himself, he thought of the woman in need and made himself present to her.
Jesus is not only a model of service but also the very power as the Son of God that brings about healing. In today’s Gospel, Jesus was aware of the woman’s need. The first step in building a culture of life is to respect the dignity of each person we encounter and to be aware of their need. It is much easier to be unaware of or to operate from a position of – they brought the issue upon themselves. We can react with indifference, impatience, and/or contempt because we would rather not be bothered by another’s issues.
The next step is an invitation. Once Jesus becomes aware of the woman, he did not impose his will, even for her healing. Instead, Jesus invited her to come. We need to respect another’s option to say no to help and allow them to come on their own. Though there are times, such as for those who are dealing with an addiction, when there may be a need for more direct intervention.
We need to resist being stumbling blocks to others in need of the healing presence of Jesus. We are all capable of accepting another where they are and as they are, we can will their good, and we can be a healing, understanding, and supportive presence. We can be a means of healing as were the four men who brought their crippled friend to Jesus and being undeterred from not having access by letting him down through a roof (see Mark 2:1-12 and Matthew 9:1-8). We are called to bring the love and mercy of Christ to others and we also need to be kinder and more gentle with ourselves. When there is awareness, invitation, acceptance of the invitation, and two or more gathered in the name of Jesus, there can be healing.