“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Words from our gospel today, according to Mark.
Jesus cures a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, in the Synagogue.
And this apparent misstep is enough that they begin to plot his death. That’s how bad it was.
Jesus looks past the letter of institutional law and extends his mercy to this man.
His mercy has no bounds and no limits.
But this reading is a two-edged sword.
It’s inspirational when we read it from the position of one being offered mercy.
It’s demanding when we read it as one called to extend mercy.
Mercy is cheap when we’re the one on the receiving end.
But when it costs us something, we sometimes find ourselves a little stingy.
“Give until it hurts” was a small phrase a priest friend quoted often.
Give, even when it exacts some pain.
Give, without counting the cost.
Give, even when they don’t deserve it, legally.
How often does “the law” get the last word over mercy?
Mercy will always cost us a little something.
For Jesus, it cost his life.