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Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Eph. 8:32-5:8 & Lk. 13:10-17

The missionary churches that Saint Paul established and supported consisted of converts from paganism. He wanted them to make a real impact on their environment with lives that showed a real difference from the surrounding culture. So Paul encouraged them to live upright and blameless moral lives.

He began by saying there must not be even mention of fornication among them. What would he say today when this behaviour is accepted by so many people - even among ‘practising Catholics’ - as the norm! And they should put all lewd and promiscuous conduct out of their lives. Nor should there be obscene, silly or suggestive talk among them. All of these ways of living and talking were out of place in the church precisely because they were so common in the world. The only way those first Christians were going to reach others with the Gospel was if they demonstrated a higher standard of moral behavior than their neighbours. A religion that did not set them off from others was no real religion at all.

The fact that Jesus wanted to cure so many who were bodily ill itself illustrates God’s respect for the body. This deserves as much, or even more, respect from Christian than it gets in a fitness centre. For us it works hand in hand with our spirit to honour God and serve others.

Is there anything that keeps us bound up or oppressed? Infirmity, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, can befall us for a variety of reasons and God can use it for some purpose that we do not understand. When Jesus encountered an elderly woman who was spent of her strength and unable to stand upright, in today's Gospel, He gave her words of faith and freedom and He restored her to health.

She must have suffered much, both physically and spiritually for 18 years, since Jesus remarked that Satan had bound her. How can Satan do this? The scriptures indicate that Satan can act in the world with malice, causing injuries of a spiritual nature and indirectly even of a physical nature. Satan's power, however, is finite. He cannot prevent the building up of God's kingdom or reign in our lives.

Jesus demonstrates the power and authority of God's kingdom in releasing people who are oppressed by physical and emotional sickness, by personal weakness and sin, and by the harassment of the Evil One in their lives. It took only one word from Jesus to release this woman instantly of her infirmity. Do we believe in the power of Jesus to release us from affliction and oppression?

The Jewish leaders were indignant that Jesus would perform such a miraculous work on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. They were so caught up in their ritual observance of the Sabbath that they lost sight of God's mercy and goodness. Jesus healed on the Sabbath because God does not rest from showing His mercy and love … ever. God's word has power to change us - spiritually, physically and emotionally. Is there anything that keeps us bound up or that weighs us down? Then let us ask the Lord to speak His word to us and give us freedom.

Lord Jesus, no matter how we suffer, spiritually or physically, may we never fail to turn to You for all the help we need, for You are our divine Physician.

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