Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Luke 13.10-17 (2022 Week 30)

Listen to a reflection for Monday 24 October 2022 on Luke 13.10-17

Luke 13.10-17

Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.


… there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years.

There are many synonyms for the word crippled that we use in our every day lives. We speak of being broken, damaged, deformed, handicapped, harmed, impaired, mangled, marred and paralyzed. All of these words, and more, are used in our everyday language to describe reasons for our not functioning in the way we believe to be within our capability. These words are used to explain our inability to articulate our faith, to live a life of dynamic faith, to live up to the demands of our faith. When challenged on our shortcomings we say that we are crippled (or whatever word we choose) with … and we believe that everyone will understand. But … many times when we use such phrases we are actually making excuses, we are trying to explain away our hesitancy, our reluctance, our lack of faith.

We do not know the details of the woman’s illness in today’s reading, other than she had been bent double for eighteen years. However, we do know the effect of Jesus’ healing touch in her life: she stood up straight and began praising God. Surely, this was a cause for great celebration. A woman whose life had been damaged for so long was suddenly freed from all that restricted her and, there she was, praising God. If nothing else, that first reaction was worthy of great celebration. But, not from the point of view of the leader of the synagogue. Jesus had healed on the sabbath, a great sin in the eyes of the religious authorities.

Too often we are like the leader of the synagogue, we use man-made rules to restrict our work in God’s name. We pile up excuses, pretending they have some sort of spiritual authority, in order that we might not have to be faithful and active apostles of Jesus Christ. It is through such behaviours that we not only cripple ourselves, but we also restrict others who would otherwise respond to God’s call in their lives with joy and enthusiasm.

Let us pray that we might let Christ heal us of all that holds us back from praising God through our words and deeds. Let us pray that we might not allow the ‘false’ limitations that others would impose upon us to stop us from praising God before everyone we meet. Let us pray that our joyous faith might help others to throw off all that cripples them on their journeys of faith.