Father of heaven and earth, hear our prayers, and show us the way to your peace in the
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Reading - Mark 3:1-6
Another time he went into the synagogue, and there was a man present whose hand
was withered. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath
day, hoping for something to charge him with. He said to the man with the withered
hand, “Get up and stand in the middle!” Then he said to them, “Is it permitted on the
Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?” But they said nothing.
Then he looked angrily round at them, grieved to find them so obstinate, and said to
the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The
Pharisees went out and began at once to plot with the Herodians against him,
discussing how to destroy him.
• In today’s Gospel we meditate on the last of the five conflicts which Mark presents
at the beginning of his Gospel (Mk 2:1 to 3:6). The four previous conflicts were
provoked by the enemies of Jesus. This last one is provoked by Jesus himself and
reveals the seriousness of the conflict between him and the religious authority of his
time. It is a conflict of life or death. It is important to note the category of enemies
which has arisen in this conflict. It is a question of the Pharisees and the Herodians,
that is of the religious and the civil authority. When Mark wrote his Gospel in the year
70, many of them still remembered very well the terrible persecution of the 60’s,
perpetuated by Nero against the Christian communities. In hearing that Jesus
himself had been threatened to death and how he behaved in the midst of these
dangerous conflicts, the Christians found a source of courage and orientation so as
not to be discouraged along the journey.
• Jesus in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus enters into the Synagogue. He had
the habit of participating in the celebrations of the people. A man was there who
had a withered hand. A physically disabled person who could not participate fully,
because he was considered to be impure. Even if he was present in the community,
he was marginalized. He had to remain far away from the rest.
• The concern of the enemies of Jesus. The enemies were observing him to see if Jesus
would cure on Saturday. They wanted to accuse him. The second commandment of
the Law of God ordered to “sanctify the Sabbath.” It was prohibited to work on that
day (Ex 20:8-20). The Pharisees said that to cure a sick person was the same as
working. And for this reason, they taught: “It is prohibited to cure on the Sabbath!”
They placed the law above the well-being of persons. Jesus was an uncomfortable
person for them, because he placed the well-being of persons above the norms and
the laws. The concern of the Pharisees and of the Herodians was not the zeal for the
Law, but rather the will, the desire to accuse and get rid of Jesus.
• Get up and stand in the middle! Jesus asks two things of the physically disabled
person: Get up and stand in the middle! The word “get up” is the same one which
the communities of Mark also used to say “rise, resurrect”. The disabled person has
to “resurrect,” to get up, to live in the middle and to take his place in the center of
the community! The marginalized, the excluded, have to live in the middle! They
cannot be excluded. They must be together with the others! Jesus calls the excluded
one to stand in the middle.
• The question of Jesus leaves the others without knowing what to say. Jesus asks: Is
it permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do bad? To save life or to kill? He could
have asked: “On the Sabbath is it permitted to cure: yes or no?! And in this way, all
would have answered: “No, it is not permitted!” But Jesus changed the question. For
him, in that concrete case, “to cure” was the same as “to do good” or “to save a life,”
and not “to kill!” With his question Jesus put the finger on the wound. He denounced
the prohibition of curing on the Sabbath considering this to be a system of death. A
wise question! The enemies remain without knowing what to answer.
• Jesus looked angrily around at them, grieved to find them so obstinate. Jesus reacts
with indignation and sadness before the attitude of the Pharisees and the Herodians.
He orders the man to stretch out his hand, and he cures him. By curing the disabled
man, Jesus shows that he does not agree with the system which places the law
above life. In response to the action of Jesus, the Pharisees and the Herodians decide
to kill him. With this decision they confirm that, in fact, they are defenders of a
system of death! They are not afraid to kill in order to defend the system against
Jesus who attacks and criticizes it in the name of life.
• The disabled man was called to stand in the center of the community. In our
community, do the poor and the excluded have a privileged place?
• Have you already confronted yourself, sometimes, with persons such as the
Herodians and the Pharisees who place the law above the well-being of persons?
What did you feel at that moment? Have you agreed with them or have you criticized
Yet you are merciful to all, and nothing that you have made disgusts you, Lord, lover of
life! (Wis 11:23-26)