“In his defense Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.'” (John 5:17)
In this episode Jesus finds himself in trouble with the religious authorities for healing on the Sabbath. They saw it as “working” on the Sabbath, the day on which people were commanded to rest from all kinds of work. The Sabbath was meant to be a good gift to God’s people. But unfortunately that sense was lost under a mountain of rules against activities that counted as “work.” For example, the man who is healed in this story gets in trouble just for carrying his mat.
When Jesus heals on the Sabbath, the religious leaders get angry because their rules have become more important to them than love for their neighbor. But here Jesus reminds us that mercy is more important to God than rigid legalism. Jesus has an opportunity to heal, and he takes it because the Father is always working to build his kingdom, regardless of what day of the week it is.
This challenges us today to consider any “rules” we follow that may limit our ability to serve God. Are there places we are unwilling to go, people we are unwilling to help, or times when we make ourselves unavailable to others? If so, are we putting something in the way of showing God’s love and care?
Father, give us the grace to know the difference between your good commands and our human rules that can get in the way of your will being done. Amen.