Tenth Sunday after Trinity

First Reading Isaiah 58:9b-14

Third Isaiah spells out to the people how following God’s ways – denouncing oppression, speaking the truth, feeding the hungry, caring for the suffering, and worshipping God – will result in a wonderful quality of life.

Second Reading Hebrews 12:18-29

The writer describes God as a “consuming fire” which cannot be touched and which terrified the ancient Israelites. But Christians are invited to the holy city where God is judge and is safely mediated through Jesus who brings a new covenant.

Third Reading Luke 13:10-17

Jesus breaks the rules of the Sabbath by healing a woman who had been crippled for years. This enraged the synagogue leader but Jesus silenced the crowd by comparing their treatment of human beings with their treatment of their animals.

HOMILY “When he laid his hands upon her, immediately she stood up straight.”

(Luke 13:13)

Are you good at asking for help? No? Really, you surprise me! Many of us like to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, don’t we? We don’t like to think that we can’t do things for ourselves and the thought of someone else having to provide for our basic needs is scary. It’s interesting having a toddler in the Vicarage household. On the one hand she likes to think she is able to do anything, from climbing the highest mountain or piece of furniture, to swimming the seas or, in her case, a paddling pool. She thinks she is invincible and often realizes, usually with a bump, that she can’t quite do everything she would like. Sometimes our human frailty lets us down; this can be some form of disability or sickness, or just our own willingness to have a go or trust.

When Jesus was teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath, the Sabbath being the time of rest in Judaism, he spotted a crippled woman who was nearly bent in two. The woman did not ask for help, nor did anyone else request help for her, but our Lord laid his hands on her anyway. Immediately she stood up straight and tall as Jesus set her free from her ailment but, for some reason, this simple and kindly act angered the leader of the synagogue. He complained not to Jesus himself but appealed to the crowd, naming Jesus’ actions as “healing” and therefore “work”. Why was he so angry? And why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath when he could quite easily have made an appointment to visit the woman after the Sabbath? Perhaps the synagogue leader was angry that the woman interrupted the formal worship with spontaneous praise of her own. Or perhaps he was aware that Jesus was challenging the structures of organised religion.