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James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey-Buillon, France). The Man with the Withered Hand (L'homme à la main desséchée), 1886-1896.


Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.

There was a man there who had a withered hand.

They watched Jesus closely

to see if he would cure him on the sabbath

so that they might accuse him.

He said to the man with the withered hand,

"Come up here before us."

Then he said to the Pharisees,

"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,

to save life rather than to destroy it?

But they remained silent.

Looking around at them with anger

and grieved at their hardness of heart,

Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."

He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel

with the Herodians against him to put him to death.


"Come up here before us."

One can feel the tension, the open hostility. Imagine how the man with the withered hand felt. Was he a frequent attendee for worship and teaching? How long was his hand withered? Was this congenital, an injury or a stroke? Had he sought help? Were the Pharisees aware of him? Did they know his circumstances, his family, or even his name?

Jesus initiated the encounter and the healing. He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

He intercedes for the man.

Jesus says, "Come up here before us." When we hear this command, it looks as if he might be on trial (perhaps what we might hear on Judgment Day). The unknown man can also feel the tensions. The Pharisees remained silent but were watching this encounter carefully, hoping to find fault because they already knew that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. They had already accused Him of violating the Sabbath law. They needed more proof, another transgression!!

He defends him. He heals him.

The Pharisees walked out and immediately took counsel with the political allies of Herod Antipas, an enemy of the Jews. Lurking around and upset, their anger and their legalism allows their hatred for Jesus to grow. How many times do our emotions rush us to judgment or to do vindictive acts? How many times have we grieved the Lord as He sees our hardness of heart?

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath." (CCC 2173)

He is our physician-- He undoes the effects of sin.

He is our advocate, defending us against the enemy before His Father.

Do we trust Him?

Believe that He loves us?

Believe He is in control?

Believe, then, in His all mighty power.

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Psalm 144

God Bless You


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