THE DELUSION OF BEING ABSOLUTELY RIGHT
As He was healing the hitherto unfortunate woman who had been ill for eighteen years, Jesus also wanted to heal the spiritual ills of those who were witnesses to the miracle described in today's Gospel (Luke 13:10-17). This is what Saint John Chrysostom says in his commentary on this Gospel. He says that Jesus wanted to make manifest the limitless compassion of God. He wanted people to realize that God was not oblivious to the suffering of His creatures, or - worse - that He derived some sort of pleasure from seeing them suffer, just because He was angry with them for sinning. Jesus wanted to make the mercy of God known to all.
In fact, as it turned out, He was very successful, for the Scripture says that "all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him". That is the right response to such a revelation: joy, gratitude, praise! This response by the multitude to Jesus' healing of the woman, who had been bent over by the spirit of infirmity, shows that they recognized what He had done to be the work of God. In other words, the healing of their souls from the darkness of ignorance and fear was well on the way. They recognized the work of God and rejoiced at it. Oh, that we might, as well!
But what shall we say about the ruler of the synagogue? He obviously did not recognize this miraculous intervention to be a work of God. He was concerned about a law: the law of observing the Sabbath. Not that it is wrong to strive to obey good and wise laws. These are the foundation of harmonious living in a civilized society. However, there are laws which are more profound than the laws of ritual observance, no matter how important and symbolic these latter may be.
It is very sad to read that the person in charge of the spiritual welfare of God's people did not recognize the works of the God he was called upon to serve. Yet, there may be an important warning there for us. It seems that it is not at all impossible that even people who are committed to serve God may find themselves lost in delusion. This should make us humble and determined to walk in the way of repentance and accountability to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need each other very much. We need each other for support but also to help us to stay alert and on track. By His words and actions, Jesus helped the ruler of the synagogue to at least become aware of the possibility that there were more important things to worshipping and serving God than the meticulous observance of ritual laws. To us this seems to be self-evident. To him it was not. Are there areas of our lives that are equally open to delusion? Let us entreat the Lord to help us to walk along the right path.
V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash