I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.
In God alone be at rest, my soul; f
or my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress; I stand firm. (R./)
Take refuge in God all you people.
Trust him at all times.
Pour out your hearts before him
for God is our refuge. (R./)
On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?" After looking around at all of them, he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
It is unlikely that Our Lord meant to stir up a quarrel in the synagogue that sabbath day. But he sensed a trap by his enemies to put him in a negative light. A disabled man was being used to make Jesus look like a law-breaker, using the man's handicap to get at the volatile preacher from Nazareth. There is a common tendency to corral the love of God within limits, that would limit or exclude individuals or whole groups from his help. But the power of Jesus cannot be bound by rigid traditions. Facile reasons can be advanced for not doing the right thing. "It's the wrong day of the week to come looking for help; come next Saturday." Or we may fear criticism if we speak up on behalf of the unemployed or disabled. Or we dare not even mildly correct an influential person, for obvious wrongdoing. People even see reasons why God should not act generously. But following Jesus' example we should "Just Do It!"
Jesus is often portrayed as giving hope to those who are desperately in need of healing. His arrival in the synagogue gave hope to the man with the withered hand, in spite of the hostile comments of others. And hope was not disappointed. In Luke 23 his last words were a promise of hope to a condemned man crucified alongside him, "today, you will be with me in Paradise."
He remains a hopeful presence in all of our lives. Paul even calls him "Christ among you, your hope of glory." Jesus lives invisibly among us, and his presence is the foretaste of eternal life. Right here and now he inspires us to expect a fuller life with him in eternity. This hope says St Paul, will not be disappointed. As believers in him, we are always people of hope.