Above the Law

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Edwin Fernandez SVD — Divine Word College of Laoag

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It was one Sunday morning many years ago. I was presiding the Holy Mass in our seminary chapel in La Florida, Santiago, Chile. When I was giving my homily, an older woman fainted and fell from her chair. I thought the persons sitting next to her would help her, but, to my great disappointment, no one was moving. Perhaps, they did not want to cause any distraction during such a sacred celebration.

I decided then to stop my preaching and help the woman who was lying on the floor. She was immediately brought to a hospital, and soon she recovered well. Though the Holy Eucharist was interrupted for several minutes, I believe that many of those present understood clearly its meaning when we showed compassion and love to the woman.

In the Gospel reading today, the man who was ill had been suffering for 38 years! Jesus knew perfectly well what the man had gone through. Moreover, he loved and cared for him much more than anyone else could. It is for this reason that Jesus took the initiative to ask him if he wanted to be well, and after hearing about his repeated frustrations in getting healed, he immediately made him rise, take up his mat and walk.

Jesus performed this miracle on a Sabbath, thus violating the day dedicated to rest. With such a bold gesture, Jesus made it absolutely clear that the highest law we ought to live is the Law of Love.

Saint Arnold Janssen used to say: “The most important thing of all is to do the will of God.” If God wants us to work hard to save lives during our days off, then we must heed his call despite our personal need and desire for rest. We need to discern and to be always open to his most holy will.

Jesus at times exposed the hypocrisy of the religious authorities of his time who severely criticized him and eventually plotted his death. Secretly, they violated the Sabbath law, but far worse than that, they showed no compassion towards the least of their brothers and sisters.

Do we constantly seek to know what God is asking us to do in response to the concrete situations of his beloved people, even at the cost of personal comforts and securities? “Lord, what do you want me to do today? May your will be done.”

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