Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
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10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
11 And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.
12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity."
13 And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God.
14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day."
15 Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it?
16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?"
17 As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
10 Ἦν δὲ διδάσκων ἐν μιᾷ τῶν συναγωγῶν ἐν τοῖς σάββασι. 11 καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ ἦν πνεῦμα ἔχουσα ἀσθενείας ἔτη δέκα καὶ ὀκτώ, καὶ ἦν συγκύπτουσα καὶ μὴ δυναμένη ἀνακῦψαι εἰς τὸ παντελές. 12 ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὴν ὁ Ἰησοῦς προσεφώνησε καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· γύναι, ἀπολέλυσαι τῆς ἀσθενείας σου· 13 καὶ ἐπέθηκεν αὐτῇ τὰς χεῖρας· καὶ παραχρῆμα ἀνωρθώθη καὶ ἐδόξαζε τὸν Θεόν. 14 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἀρχισυνάγωγος, ἀγανακτῶν ὅτι τῷ σαββάτῳ ἐθεράπευσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, ἔλεγε τῷ ὄχλῳ· ἓξ ἡμέραι εἰσὶν ἐν αἷς δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι· ἐν ταύταις οὖν ἐρχόμενοι θεραπεύεσθε, καὶ μὴ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ σαββάτου. 15 ἀπεκρίθη οὖν αὐτῷ ὁ Κύριος καὶ εἶπεν· ὑποκριτά, ἕκαστος ὑμῶν τῷ σαββάτῳ οὐ λύει τὸν βοῦν αὐτοῦ ἢ τὸν ὄνον ἀπὸ τῆς φάτνης καὶ ἀπαγαγὼν ποτίζει; 16 ταύτην δέ, θυγατέρα Ἀβραὰμ οὖσαν, ἣν ἔδησεν ὁ σατανᾶς ἰδοὺ δέκα καὶ ὀκτὼ ἔτη, οὐκ ἔδει λυθῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ δεσμοῦ τούτου τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ σαββάτου; 17 καὶ ταῦτα λέγοντος αὐτοῦ κατῃσχύνοντο πάντες οἱ ἀντικείμενοι αὐτῷ, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἔχαιρεν ἐπὶ πᾶσι τοῖς ἐνδόξοις τοῖς γινομένοις ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ.
Larger Thought Unit
Today’s reading begins a thought unit which progresses to the end of the chapter. At center stage is the kingdom of God in the person and power of Christ, which not all see and understand. The woman is released from the bondage of the evil one as a ‘type’ of liberation to come. She functions as a sign. At the end of the chapter, Christ is moving towards Jerusalem and its judgment for killing the prophets and rejecting the word of God and the tragic announcement that most will not know ‘who’ he is until the parousia. Today’s reading is unique to Luke and again challenges a specific interpretation of the Law of Moses with another interpretation which is authenticated by Christ’s exorcism.
This parable comes in conjunction with Jesus’ preceding comments:
There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood tell Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (vv.1-5).
The link is made clear through the numeral eighteen: “And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years.”
Jesus is offering the Jews, especially those who opted for the armed revolt that proved to be disastrous, a way out from under the Roman yoke: being open to those in need and consider anyone in need worthy of such attention. This should not be difficult to understand since, in the Law, the rule of caring for the needy supersedes any other. The Sabbath was actually instituted to give precedence over anything else to the “word of God” that is the true bread and the provider of true life.
The disciples are thus invited to carry out, as an apostle (the one sent) would, the word of the gospel to all, even the enemies. Otherwise it is this same word that will prove to be their punishment as in the days of the prophets. Siloam and eighteen in v.4 recall Is 8:6 and Jer 32:1. Moreover, Siloam is explained as “sent (out)” in Jn 9:7, 11.
Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke, Smith & Helwys Publishing, Macon, GA, 2002; pp. 163-168.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.150.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; pp.112-14.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.3: Johannine Writings, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2004; pp.191-93.