Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:1-5)
Jesus is all about the change or the cure. Jesus makes the difference in a person’s life from being on the margins to being brought back into community. This is the original good news of the Gospel, but we in the modern church seem to have relegated this message to “scripture alone.” We are more about showing only our “fixed up faces” rather than our “withered hands” that need The Lord’s touch to make us whole again. The former we can fix with make up and masks, but the latter needs true spiritual power. I think of those grocery store bakery cakes that have lots of iced flowers in multiple colors on them. The icing is inedible, dry, and the cake isn’t much better. They do make great photos, however.
No wonder that when our paintbox is exhausted and our good hand is weary of holding up the disguise of competence before our faces, our carefully constructed facades of “managing” begin to crumble. One more tilt in our tectonic plate will cause the whole to crumble like a Haitian slum dwelling. Yet we persist in thinking that “If I only try harder to hold onto my strengths, I will make my way through these hard times.” We don’t understand the gospel message of surrendering to our weakness in order to receive healing and wholeness.
We tend to think of healing as the absence of disease, but often healing is acceptance of our condition and making the changes in our life necessary to live in “wellness.” When my doctor said I was insulin resistant and on the way to becoming diabetic, I began to exercise more and count calories and carbohydrates. I lost 50 pounds, am stuck there now, but have my blood sugars in the range of normal. I still have the low blood sugars, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but my lifestyle change is a form of “healing.” It’s not a miracle of course, but my faith and the Holy Spirit empowered me. Likewise, for one who is depressive or bipolar, taking medicine regularly and participating in therapy sessions is a part of their wellness plan.
We move so quickly each day, throwing on the mask or the makeup, that we don’t engage our selves in the mirror except to think, “my upper lip needs waxing again!” Or “how did my eyebrows get so brushy?” Then we are on our busy way, filling up our hours and minutes with activity both meaningful and mind numbing. Searching our heart of hearts, or introspection, isn’t our long suit, anymore than long term planning. We tend to do what is immediate and before us. Because we have constructed our masks so well and worn them for so long, our heart of hearts is buried under many layers. If we are the bakers in the grocery store, we aren’t looking for a new recipe for our inedible frosted flowers. Change and transformation aren’t on our mind, for we can still sell the old product. A better way of doing or being doesn’t intrude upon our busyness.
If Jesus came to our place of worship, would he be able to see these withered hearts? Are any of us as brave as the man in the synagogue, that we would offered our withered heart out for all to see? The one who shows weakness is the one who is healed.