Today’s Gospel had me questioning if it was worse to have a withered hand or a withered heart. Lately, I have wondered if some of our hearts have lost the way. I feel great sadness when I see the Negative Nellies speaking louder than the Hopeful Hannahs. If our first inclination is to not rejoice, then is Jesus grieved? Give him the withered hand and he will heal it, Sabbath or not. Present him with people who want to follow the law, unjust or just, without love, and people want to destroy him. He cannot seem to transform their small hearts.
Let me be clear this is not a politically-motivated post. I am talking about the people in our every day lives who when you have good news want to shoot it down. In my illness, I am acutely aware of such people. I am so relieved to have very few of these people in my path. Jesus must have gotten tired of those who whined and complained all the time. He still hung out with a few though, just to keep nudging us all towards redemption I figure. I never quite know what to say to those folks who cannot see the good first. Let me say that I know I am equally as guilty in some situations.
I read a great interview today with Patch Adams by a local man named Jarem Sawatsky. Adams says that at the age of 18 he dove into an ocean of gratitude and has never since found the shore. He stayed in the grateful experience. What if we did not compare ourselves with others or enviously think that we deserve the same or better treatment? What if, instead, we truly celebrated the joy that another human began to experience? How about we just enlarge our hearts because there is no scarcity when God gives? Suppose we tried on Love and wore it all day every day? What if we reached out to those with withered hands to give them freedom from their bondage? What if we showed the Pharisees that Love wins? What if we pumped up those withering hearts with rejoicing?
I think the heart of Jesus is grieved when we forget how to love first and foremost. Jesus wants us to be joy for one another, to be affirmers, encouragers, and gratitude-seekers. Christ wants all of us to be whole and unfettered. Whether you have a withered hand or heart, bring it to Jesus to fix. Do it sooner, rather than later. Do not wait a single day for the freedom that Christ desires you to have.
What withers your heart?
Who do you struggle to celebrate?
Jesus the Christ, come now and touch my withered heart. Smooth it out. Grow it large again. Breathe new life into it. Send me into the world to spread your love. Amen.