MEDITATION OF THE DAY
“Jesus entered the synagogue”
From the field of grain Jesus proceeds to the local synagogue. His moving on from place to place is no random wandering about: it is the passing of our pilgrim God, coming from his Father to search us out, seeking to do us good, seeking the love of our hearts. The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills…. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows…. My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away (Sg 2:8-10)…. The place he now enters for Sabbath worship is, after all, the synagogue, which means a “gathering together.” This indicates the unitive and harmonizing power of God’s Word, which creates a new people for itself….
The ordinary Sabbath celebration of God’s great deeds to Israel receives, on this particular Sabbath, an unexpected aggiornamento [bringing up to date] as all see Jesus, the living Word of God, concretely performing and fulfilling those actions that the Scriptures until now have attributed only to the invisible God himself, the Shepherd of Israel: I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal (Ez 34:15-16). It would be the same if, while reading about a great historical character in a book, I lifted up my eyes and (O wonder!) suddenly saw the character walk in the flesh into the room where I was sitting reading about him.
Jesus’ mere presence reimmerses Israel and all of humanity in the living drama of salvation history in the making, and this man with a withered hand represents all mankind in its dire need of being extracted by God’s power out of its condition of entrapment: When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to rescue those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal 4:4-5). Whether they know it or not, the worshipers on this day see their synagogue transformed from a sacred space for liturgical remembrance based on sacred texts into a crucible where God’s transforming fire comes too close for comfort, applied with divine wisdom by the Virgin’s Son.
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, now known as Father Simeon, is a Cistercian monk serving in Rome. He is the author of Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, a commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, with the fourth and final volume soon to come. / From Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Vol. Two (Chapters 12-18). © 2003, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. www.ignatius.com. Used with permission.