On the Cure of the Man Who Had a Withered Hand.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Cure of the Man Who Had a Withered Hand.
In the synagogue at Jerusalem there was a man who had a withered hand. Tradition says that he was a mason, and therefore the use of the diseased hand was absolutely necessary for him to earn his daily bread. Behold him standing as a suppliant before Him who has power to help him, the all-merciful Saviour, whilst in the background the wily Pharisees are looking on, for it is a Sabbath day and consequently, according to their mistaken views, it would be unlawful to attempt to heal the sufferer. With this scene present to your mind proceed to consider what may be learnt from it.
1st. Our Lord knew that the Pharisees were only on the watch for an occasion to bring an accusation against Him, that they might destroy Him, and it was only with this evil intention that they put the question to Him; “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days?” (St. Matt, xii. 10.) Nevertheless the precept of charity, the spirit of compassion, outweighed with Him every scruple, every personal consideration. Though He was exposing Himself thereby to their anger and hatred, to their vengeance and their calumnies, He did not hesitate to utter the words: “Stretch forth thy hand” (v. 13), and thus healed the man’s infirmity. Learn from our Lord’s example to give the first and highest place to God’s law, to hold it in greater consideration than the favor of men, to practise charity and do a deed of mercy even at the risk of incurring the wrath and slanders of men. One ought never, it is true, to give scandal or occasion of offence to any one, but if one clearly recognizes the performance of some act to be a duty towards God or one’s neighbor, no selfish motives, no thought of human respect, or dread of losing the favor of men ought to hold one back. If we were deterred by these things, where would there be any good works? Our Lord would not have founded His Church, the saints would not have founded Orders. My soul, lay to heart this important teaching and for the future pay less regard to man and more to God, remembering those golden words: “He who covets not to please men and fears not their displeasure shall enjoy much peace.” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 28.)
2d. Consider that Jesus is not satisfied with having, undeterred by the craft of the Pharisees, shown mercy to the afflicted man; He goes so far as to extend His kindness to His antagonists, gently rebuking them, and endeavoring by means of the comparison of the sheep that had fallen into a pit to convince them that He had done rightly. But the Jews will not take this kindly rebuke. Their pride will not permit them to admit the justice of that which their reason approves. Instead of allowing themselves to be corrected, they only hate the speaker more bitterly. You are perhaps, my soul, shocked at the malice of these bad men, but think a moment, are you not condemning yourself in condemning them? For, as St. Bernard says, we are so puffed up with pride, that we cannot tolerate the slightest reprimand, and instead of thanking those who call us to account for our faults, we regard their reproof in the light of an unjust persecution. This is an abominable, a most pernicious fault. An eminent divine compares those who will not be corrected to the devil, because they are incorrigible as he is. “He that hateth to be reproved walketh in the trace of a sinner.” (Ecclus. xxi. 7.) The great St. Basil also writes thus on this subject: “If for our health’s sake we make use of bitter medicines, and thank the physician who for our cure employs the knife or applies caustic, is it not meet that for the salvation of our soul and the good of the Order we should in like manner submit to be rebuked, however repugnant this may be to our whole inner man?”
3d. Consider how our Lord acted subsequently. When He saw that His kind words, far from doing good, only added fuel to the fire of the Jews anger and hatred against Him, when He saw that they actually “made a consultation against Him how they might destroy Him,” He retired from thence. He would not enter into any disputation, any strife with them. As kindness was of no avail, He withdrew out of the way. Learn of Jesus, my soul, to yield to your opponents and keep silence, to bear and suffer patiently where the only other alternative is wrangling and struggling with them. The observance of this rule is a necessary condition for the peace of every family, every Community, every convent. “If two hard things collide, a great noise is made, but if a hard substance strikes against a soft one, the impact scarcely causes a sound to be heard.” “A cannon-ball,” says Rodriguez, “knocks down a tower with a loud report, but if it hits a wool sack, it makes no noise and does no harm.” Learn of Jesus to cultivate this wise habit of yielding to others; you need not fear that you will thereby demean yourself. Examine your conscience as to how matters are with you in this respect, and ponder well this admonition of Holy Scripture: “A mild answer breaketh wrath, but a harsh word stirreth up fury.” (Prov. xv. 1.) “Strive not with a man that is full of tongue, and heap not wood upon his fire.” (Ecclus. viii. 4.)
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Copyright © 2013. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.