Monday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey
Scripture Readings: Rom 8:12-17; Lk 13:10-17
“Jesus saw the woman and laid hands on her and at once she stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue was indignant at Jesus…”
That is a remarkable difference between the way Jesus’ touch affected the woman and the way it affected the religious leader. The woman found and glorified God in the event; the religious leader saw only a violation of the system; a threat to his power center.
The woman had been bent over by a spirit, not a physical deformity, but a spirit. She represents humanity trapped in sin, in worldly materialism. Her focus is on the earth. Her faith, hope, and love are focused on things found there. She is converted by being in the presence of Jesus. “Jesus saw her” and His hands affected her. It affected her in a way that was important …very important. It was very important because it made a difference…a big difference. When she is able to look up, she sees the Father. She has been given a new spirit. This results in a new focus for faith, hope, and love; a new way of perception.
And she has been given a new heart. The heart is the source of our ordo amoris, our order of love, of what matters most. Jesus knows that if we are to change our beliefs and our behavior, there must be a change in what we care about.
Fallen humanity is represented by a woman because, when freed of a self-centered spirit, a woman shows her natural likeness to God by her caring for the good of others. What we see in this story, then, is a conversion of what we most care about. It is a change from self-interest to selflessness. That is a change of perception. And it is a liberation! The conversion frees her, or rather, humanity, to love, to forgetfulness of self and commitment to the common good. Liberation is the key theme to this story because the benefits of loving come only to the one who is selfless. To be selfless one must be affected by something of ultimate importance that makes an ultimate difference. That affection should result in caring about it.
When we are set upright, we are given the capacity to love what we can never lack when we love it. This capacity to love as God loves changes our perception. It lets us say with C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity the way I believe the sun raises. Not only because I see it, but because by its light I see everything.”