18 January 2012: Wednesday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time
Inscribed on a Zen monastery sign:
If you break the law, you will never attain freedom.
And underneath it:
If you keep the law, you will never attain freedom.
The issue in Mark’s Gospel today is not the healing of the paralyzed man, but the healing done on a Sabbath. And because it was forbidden on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were furious, to the point of attempting to kill him. To the Pharisees, the Sabbath should be kept holy, and therefore, no work was permitted.
But Jesus defied that law blatantly, for the sake of the one in great need. The Law of love is over and above all other laws. Compassion is foremost a virtue greater than others. There is a hierarchy of values. Not all values belong to the same plane. Altruism is one of the greatest characteristics of Jesus.
I remember a story of Peter and Agnes. Both of them were eyeing a luscious mango on the table. Her mom said, “Agnes, take the mango and divide it fraternally.”
Agnes said, “What do you mean by fraternally?”
“It is to divide the mango into two, giving the bigger part to your brother, and keeping the smaller part for you,” her mom replied.
Without hesitation, Agnes gave the mango to her brother, and said, “Take the mango and divide it fra-ter-nal-ly.”