Since Sabbath healings – which were against the rules – appear in all four Gospels, we can assume the message of these stories is important. Rather than judge the Pharisees, let’s learn from their example. Our expectations of other people’s behavior are often based on the rules we’ve imposed on ourselves. We may become offended when such expectations are not met. When this happens, we choose how to react: we can dig in our heels, or we can examine the reason for our defensiveness. We needn't automatically assume we are wrong, but self-examination never hurt anyone. Like Jesus, we need to consider when rules are appropriate, and when they should be superseded by compassion, justice or love. In Christ we are a people of love, and not a people of law—even self-imposed law. Is the Sabbath made holier by offering mercy or withholding it?
But Christianity is not a free-for-all! Christ has expectations of his followers. Determining these expectations can be hard work, because “love your neighbor” is not nearly as explicit as a list of forbidden activities. Christ didn’t offer formulas for faith, but principles for relationships with God and neighbor. Our rule is love, and its accompanying expectations can change with each person we encounter.
Evening readings: Psalms 46; 93