Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Imagine the shame of the man with the withered hand, looked down upon by others. Although he is in the synagogue on the Sabbath, his own disabilities form a sort of prison. Jesus enters into the shame of the man, and His Light shatters the grim bars of darkness. In front of begrudging religious leaders, Christ orders the man, “Come up and stand before us.” This is not to humiliate him further. Rather, the Lord now bears their resentful stares Himself. He discourses with those who despise Him, and then He gives them a penetrating gaze. He turns back to the man, asking him to “stretch out” his hand, when suddenly it is “restored.”
We all have our own withered hand, whether it is a particular weakness, failing, or limitation. Perhaps there is something haunting us about our past or a certain self-hate we cannot shake. These things wither us, making us feel unable to move forward. Christ is just as determined to release us from prisons of shame. It will require that we “stretch out” our withered hand to Him, letting Him “restore” us.