Friday, November 03, 2006

30th Friday in Ordinary Time (II)

Readings: Philippians 1:1-11; Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Luke 14:1-6

Most, if not all, of us will be familiar with the statue of Lady Justice. Blindfolded, she carries a double-edged sword in one hand and a scale in the other. The statue expresses the ideal after which justice, or the law, strives: to judge (scale) impartially (blindfold) through the power of reason (sword). It’s a lofty ideal not easily achieved. And even when it is achieved, might we not wonder whether there’s something even higher towards which we might aim?

Consider Jesus’ response to the Pharisees today. Ostensibly, they were applying the law as impartially as they could. It didn’t matter how needy the man with dropsy was, he should not have been healed on the Sabbath. That was the Law. Yet, through his pointed questioning, Jesus uncovers an inherent inconsistency in the Law, even – or especially – when rigorously applied. If one is allowed to rescue one’s ox from a well on the Sabbath, what more the rescue of a human being from his infirmity?

Paul’s letter to the Philippians also takes us to another, more human, level than the purely legal. Paul speaks of love. My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognize what is best. Clearly, the focus is less on the strict application of laws than the cultivation of a heart that is perceptive enough to see and respond to the often all too human condition of those we encounter.

Does this mean that the blindfold should be taken off Lady Justice’s eyes? Not necessarily. Isn’t it true that sometimes it’s precisely when one is blind that one can see more rightly? Isn’t there a difference between the blindness of obstinacy, which afflicts the Pharisee, and the blindness of love, which leads one to see beyond the incidentals to the heart of a situation or person? Whatever may be the case, we find ourselves once again being challenged by the gospel to allow God to increase our love, to improve our knowledge and to deepen our perception.

How is God doing this for us today?

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