Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.
Blessed are they who who follow not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walk in the way of sinners,
nor sit in the company of the insolent,
But delight in the law of the Lord
and meditate on his law day and night. (R./)
They are is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever they do will prosper. (R./)
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the Lord watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. (R./)
Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 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. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 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." 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? 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"; 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.
Arthritic old people, leaning on a cane, used to be a common sight. The se poor folk have spent their strength and strained their bodies by back-breaking labour in rice fields, transplanting the stalks, or at the harvest picking up the stray shoots of rice. But though bent with age and hard work, they could be patient and prayerful.
In a synagogue one Sabbath day, Jesus saw a bent old woman. He knew that the purpose of the Sabbath was to enhance life, so he could not enjoy his Sabbath rest until this woman was restored to health.
He said a creative word to her, "Woman, you are free of your infirmity!" and laid his hand on her. Immediately she stood up straight and began thanking God. It was a perfect image of what Sabbath was meant to be.
The synagogue ruler was angry to see a healing worked on the Sabbath, which drew a sharp answer from Jesus, "You hypocrites. Which of you does not let his ox or ass out of the stall on the Sabbath to water it? Should not this woman be released from her shackles on the Sabbath?" Even nowadays some church leaders can resemble that Syagogue official!
Ephesians puts charity before all. It promotes all the virtues of human nature: kindness, compassion and forgiveness, under the unifying principle, "Follow the way of love, even as Christ loved you." It warns against sins against human dignity, lewdness, lust and promiscuity. To sum up, grace heightens our natural sense of virtue and builds on it. And our handicapped neighbours can often teach us about the love of God.
The manager of the synagogue allows no work to be done on the Sabbath. But God's work can be done on any day of the week. Healing a woman from her crippling condition was surely God's work. By his word and his healing touch, Jesus restored her health and gave her a new lease of life. Any life-giving work was always lawful and right and there is no day, no time, when it may not be done. He wants each of us to share in releasing people from whatever ails them.
The epistle calls on us to be friendly and kind, forgiving each other as God has forgiven us, loving others as Christ has loved us. In this way we share in the Lord's own life-giving work. The cure of the woman led her to immediate gratitude, for when she straightened up she glorified God.' If we help others, let it also be for the glory of God.