Lectio Divina: Luke 14:1-6
1) Opening prayer
Almighty and ever-living God,
strengthen our faith, hope and love.
May we do with loving hearts
what you ask of us
and come to share the life you promise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 14:1-6
It happened that on a Sabbath day Jesus had gone to share a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees and they watched Him closely. Now there in front of Him was a man with dropsy. Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees with the words "Is it against the law to cure someone on the Sabbath or not?" But they remained silent, so He took the man and cured him and sent him away.
Then He said to them, "Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day without any hesitation?" And to this they could find no answer.
• Today’s Gospel narrates an episode of the discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees which took place along His journey from Galilee up to Jerusalem. It is very difficult to situate this fact in the context of the life of Jesus. There are similarities with a fact narrated in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 3, 1-6). It is probably a question of the many stories transmitted orally and, in the oral transmission, they were adapted in accordance to the situation, the needs and hopes, of the people of the communities.
• Luke 14, 1: The invitation on a Saturday. “On a Sabbath day Jesus went to share a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees and they watched Him closely”. This initial information on the reception in the house of a Pharisee gives Luke the possibility to present several episodes which speak about welcoming and accepting the invitation to have a meal: the cure of the sick man (Lk 14, 2-6), choice of places where to eat (Lk 14, 7-11), choice of the guests invited (Lk 14, 12-14), and those invited who do not accept the invitation (Lk 14,15-24). Many times Jesus is invited by the Pharisees to share a meal. Perhaps the reason for inviting Him was out of curiosity as well as malice, wishing to observe Jesus to see how He observes the prescriptions of the law.
• Luke 14, 2: The situation which brings about the action of Jesus. “There was a man with dropsy”. It is not said how a man with dropsy could enter the house of the head of the Pharisees. But if he is in front of Jesus, it is because he wants to be cured. The Pharisees observe Jesus. It was a Saturday, and it is forbidden to cure on a Saturday. What to do? Can it be done or not?
• Luke 14, 3: The question of Jesus to the scribes and the Pharisees. “Jesus addressing the lawyers and the Pharisees asked, Is it against the law to cure someone on the Sabbath or not? With His question Jesus explains the problem which they had before them: “Can one cure or not on Saturday? Does the law permit this, yes or no? In Mark’s Gospel the question is even more provocative: “Is it permitted on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mk 3, 4).
• Luke 14, 4-6: The cure. The Pharisees do not respond and remain in silence. Before the silence of the one who neither approves nor disapproves, Jesus takes the man by the hand, cures him, and sends him away. Afterward, in response to a possible criticism, He explains the reason that has moved Him to cure: “Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day without any hesitation?” With this question Jesus shows the incoherence of the lawyers and of the Pharisees. If one of them has no problem, on Saturday, to help his son or even an animal, then Jesus also has the right to help the man with dropsy. Jesus’ question recalls the Psalm which says that God Himself helps men and animals (Ps 36, 8). The Pharisees “Could not respond anything to these words”; because before the evidence, there are no arguments which can deny it.
4) Personal questions
• The liberty of Jesus before a situation. Even though He is being observed by those who do not approve of him, He does not lose His liberty. What liberty do I have?
• There are difficult moments in life in which we are obliged to choose between the immediate need of our neighbor and the letter of the law. How should we act?
5) Concluding prayer
I give thanks to Yahweh with all my heart,
in the meeting place of honest people, in the assembly.
Great are the deeds of Yahweh,
to be pondered by all who delight in them. (Ps 111,1-2)