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Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

1 Cor. 5:1-8 & Lk. 6:6-11
Immoral behaviour was condemned by Saint Paul in very harsh language. He had learnt that a member of the Church was openly living with his stepmother, an incestuous relationship forbidden even in pagan society. Paul was angry because of the harm that this wrongdoing would cause - to the sinner himself, the Church and the wider community.

He makes it plain that by maintaining this evil way of life the man concerned was in grave spiritual danger. Such blatant immorality would not go unnoticed by non-Christians, and the Church would be treated with scorn and contempt if it was seen that this behaviour was permitted.

Paul's anger was directed at the Corinthian Church in general, because they had tolerated and accepted the sinful lifestyle of one of their members. He knew very well how one rotten apple could destroy the whole barrel! It was essential that evil should be rooted out before it could spread.

The Pharisees and scribes should have been in the synagogue to worship God but, as usual, their main purpose was to scrutinise Jesus to see if He would break their laws on the Sabbath. There in the synagogue, in today's Gospel, was a man with a withered hand. Their interpretation of the law allowed medical intervention on the Sabbath only for birth, circumcision and mortal illness. The man was not dying and so, according to them, Jesus was clearly violating the Sabbath rest if He cured him.

In Jesus’ scheme of things anything that left a neighbour in suffering did not honour God but actually dishonoured Him - and God is meant to be honoured on the Sabbath. The man was healed. That should have been enough for everyone present to say, 'May God be praised!' but instead the scribes and Pharisees were furious because their petty Sabbath laws had been broken. Do we live our lives in ways that always honour God and our neighbour?

Lord Jesus, may we live like You lives full of love and compassion for all we see, especially for the people we know who are suffering in any way.

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