The first passage for today comes from the Gospel according to St. Luke:
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” 17 As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Most of the commentary I’ve seen on this passage has fixated on the Sabbath official. I, on the other hand, want to talk about the woman. There is something noteworthy about her affliction, I think. When she meets Jesus she cannot look straight at all. What this meant is that she probably couldn’t look at Jesus, especially to gaze at His face. Which calls to mind this section of Psalm 27:
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies round about me;
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 Thou hast said, “Seek ye my face.”
My heart says to thee,
“Thy face, Lord, do I seek.”
(Psalm 27: 6-8)
Jesus lifted this woman’s head up, and how did she respond? She “praised God” in her own way, just as David did in his. The stooped woman is symbolic of humanity. We are all bent over by sin and the works (burdens) of the Evil One such that we cannot see God. His beauty, manifested in all creation, is hidden from us. Instead we can only look at the ground, at the world, and the things of it. Ultimately, that cannot help but mean that we are fixated upon those things tied to sin. There is no escape for us from this, at least, not any escape to be found in the things of the world. Only Jesus can set us free, only He can lift us up and help us escape the bondage of sin. And only after we have been freed by Him, and lifted up (just as He was lifted up), can we truly see the face of God.
Also worthy of note is that Jesus called the woman over. And she heard him, and obeyed, and came to him. She recognized His voice:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
We too must listen carefully, that we can hear his voice when He calls to us. That is easier said than done, of course, as the world is filled with distractions. If we become lost in them, we might not hear Him call out. So instead do as St. Paul taught us to do:
22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.