Lectionary Text for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost:
Psalm 71:1-6; Isaiah 58:9b-14; Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
Psalm 71:1-6: “In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you. “
Luke 13:10-17: “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.’ 15 But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?’ 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. “
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost Comment: On August 8th in error, (my mind doubts it), I used Psalm 103 instead of Psalm 33 along with Luke 13. So this Sunday I will use Psalm 71 with Luke 13.
In my opinion, Western medicine as it is practiced in America does wonders with managing acute medical incidents. Our medical system has high-tech Emergency Facilities and Critical Care Units staffed with highly skilled medical personnel. As a result, many patients who stood at the door of death have been turned back to life. However, when it comes to chronic illnesses, we don’t fare so well. It seems that our Western medical system measures success by how quickly someone is cured.
Eighteen years is a long time to wait for a cure. What kind of spirit does it take to continually seek a “second”? How long can hope survive under these conditions? How many of us would give up much earlier to live in bitter resignation to our plight?
As I read Luke 13, in my mind pictures this woman confined to the women’s section of the synagogue, separated by gender and politely ignored because of her physical disability. She represents for me all those who are “bent” by the burdens of isolation, a poor sense of worth and purpose, a lack of confidence, which if not corrected, surely leads to depression. This woman represents all the members of congregations who suffer from chronic conditions, whether physical or spiritual/emotional. For various reasons, they no longer attend worship, let alone provide ministry service.
For eighteen years this woman could not watch the synagogue service through the lattice of the women’s section. All those years, she listened and she probably knew the subtle nuisances in the voices of all those who spoke during the service. I suspect she learned to distinguish between the voice of sincerity and the voice of mechanical duty.
Perhaps, this Sabbath, she heard Jesus read Psalm 71, “In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.” For sure, she heard Jesus call her out of her place into his space and he cured her.
O Lord, give us your voice and the words that will lift the burdens from the minds and hearts bent by the pressures of life. Give us the patient endurance to walk the extra mile with them and to be a refuge and fortress for them.
Blessings during Ordinary Times,
©August 16, 2010
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