The Gospel reading from the Mass for Monday of the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 6:6-11. 

After several run-ins with the Pharisees and scribes about the Sabbath and His authority, Christ goes on the offensive on the Sabbath in the synagogue. The Pharisees, in their attempts to “will” Israel into God’s favor by enforcing excessively pious practices, had lost sight of love and mercy; even more grievous, the Pharisees and scribes were blind to the Son of God in their midst.  

The perfect balance of truth and mercy, Christ mercifully seeks to engage the Pharisees in truth, deliberately exposing their confusion with a spectacular miracle. After teaching in the synagogue, Christ turns His attention to the Pharisees, knowing they hope to accuse Him for healing on the Sabbath, a breaking of the law in their twisted minds. Rather than play it safe, Christ has a man with a withered right hand stand up and provocatively asks the Pharisees, the experts in the law, a question about the law. The author of the Law, Christ knows that the law forbids servile work on the Sabbath but not works of mercy (Exod 20:23); Christ asks: “is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 

Christ looks around the room, His powerful gaze falling on each of His would-be accusers; stung by previous rebukes from Christ, devious and cowardly, the Pharisees refuse to answer. The man with the withered right hand, resigned to live his remaining days as an emasculated cripple, stretches out his right hand at Christ’s command; the man’s hand and manhood is miraculously restored. Instead of marveling at the miracle, the Pharisees and scribes, pious practicers of the “law”, are filled with fury and commit themselves in a plot against Jesus. 

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is the authoritative source of all of the law and the Lord of the Sabbath. He sees the hidden motivations of men. Divine Teacher, Christ uses powerful words and miracles to teach the truth in an unforgettable way.  Divine Mercy, Christ mercifully teaches and performs works of mercy. Divine Physician, Christ has the knowledge and power to miraculously heal every human infirmity. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s powerful gaze falls on every man, friend and foe, looking into their eyes and into their souls; it is a look of compassion, resoluteness and challenge. Reflect on your readiness to meet the gaze of Christ in your own Judgment; are you prepared? 

2) The widespread infatuation with animals (animal “rights”, billions spent on pet care, pet rescue, calling pets “children”, militant veganism) often rejects/confuses God’s order of Creation; in Matthew’s version of today’s Gospel (Matt 12:9-14), Christ makes men’s superior position over animals clear. Review Man’s Creation in the Image of God (CCC 342-344, 355-361) and pray for Christ to give you the wisdom to respect His hierarchy of Creation and get animals their proper due.  

3) While some see suffering as proof that God does not exist, Catholics see the truth of suffering as a type of cross which offers great blessings if endured with love and valor; the fruits of Christ’s suffering proves God’s existence and wisdom in allowing suffering in the world. Reflect upon Suffering (CCC 164, 272, 385, 618, 1264, 1500-1502, 1521) and pray for Christ help you endure personal suffering and to comfort others in their suffering.