Monday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time           

            Today’s gospel passage talks about the cure of the man “with the withered hand.” There are two things I admire about this man. He wants to be cured because he wants to work. He is a man who is prepared to attempt the impossible.

            According to the gospel commentary of William Barclay, one of the apocryphal gospels, that is, one which never gained admission into the New Testament, tells us that he used to be a stone mason and he comes to Jesus, begging his help and saying, “I was a stone mason earning my living with my hand.” “I beseech you, Jesus, give me back my health that I may not have to beg my bread with shame.” So he is a man who wants to work. God always looks with approval on anyone who wants to do an honest day’s work.

            The man with the withered hand does not argue when Jesus tells him to stretch out his useless hand. He does not say, “You have not done anything yet for my withered hand, and you are asking me already to stretch it out?” Nor, “I come to you precisely because I cannot stretch out my hand. How, then, can I do what you are asking me?” Rather, he tries and, in the strength Jesus gives him, he succeeds. Impossible is a word which should be banished from the vocabulary of the Christian. (William Barclay) As a famous scientist said, “The difference between the difficult and the impossible is only that the impossible takes a little longer to do.”

            Let us take a look into the seemingly “impossible things” or let us just say “withered parts” of our life that the Lord might be asking us to bring to him. It may be our withered faith. What is a withered faith? Let me put it this way… When we forget to seriously think of what matters most in life, when we allow ourselves be overwhelmed by worries and anxieties, when we get fixated on material things and physical ‘beautification’, when we are influenced by the distorted values of consumerism, when we are intoxicated with selfish interests and ambitions, when we get addicted to sexual pleasures and instant gratification… our faith becomes withered.

            In this Mass, let us humbly ask the Lord to stretch out his hand and heal our withered faith, heal our brokenness and woundedness. May our “withered faith” be refreshed or reinvigorated by grace. May it become fully alive.

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