Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s gospel mentions a man who was suffering from dropsy. Dropsy is a condition of swelling in one’s limbs due to the accumulation of water in bodily tissues or in a body cavity. The term “dropsy” has been replaced in current medical parlance with “edema,” I’m not sure why.
The question posed by Jesus is whether it is lawful to cure a man with edema on the Sabbath or not. The answer seems obvious to us, but, to the Pharisees, the answer was not so obvious. They could reason that if God commanded us to refrain from working on the Sabbath, and if to heal an illness is to work, then we ought to refrain from healing illnesses on the Sabbath. Jesus pushes this logic. If lifting people up is work, then ought we to refrain from lifting a person out of a pit on the Sabbath?
The way out of the puzzle is not trying to delineate what’s work and what’s not work, or what’s rest and what’s not. The commandment hinges upon the purpose for the Sabbath rest. We must rest on the Sabbath not for the sake of rest itself, but to worship God. If someone rests on the Sabbath but does not worship God, that would be to miss the point, to sin.
For us, then, the question becomes: how do we worship God on the Sabbath? Is it any different from any other day of the week? What service of God do we perform especially on Sundays, and in a way that sets Sundays apart from all other days?