Street Art by Kurt Wenner (born 1958),
Executed in 2017,
Produced in Mantua, Italy
© Kurt Wenner Artist
They were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus
On the sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him. But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand, 'Stand up! Come out into the middle.' And he came out and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, 'I put it to you: is it against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?' Then he looked round at them all and said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He did so, and his hand was better. But they were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.
Reflection on the Street Artwork
In today's reading we see the Pharisees' pettiness and nitpicking on full display again, trying to trick Jesus. In fact, our reading ends saying that they were now going to actively plot against Jesus. What is sad to see is that the Pharisees are portrayed as not caring about the plight of the man Jesus heals. Seemingly they couldn't be happy for the man who just got healed. Politics were more important.
I guess we all have some of the Pharisee in us. We tend to be critical, see the bad in people and are not always generous or constructive. Are we happy when someone gets promoted? Or when someone's children get into a good school? Are we happy for other people? For the receiver of such graces, it can hurt when their friends cannot step outside of their own life story for a minute to be happy for them. And that is what Jesus is asking us to do today: to step outside ourselves. If we find ourselves unable to be happy for others, then this is something Jesus wants to help us overcome. Even when it is tough, He wants us to congratulate others and to be happy for someone else who may be more fortunate than us.
We shouldn't get stuck anyway in a comparison trap, where we compare ourselves constantly to others. If we are in such a trap, then it may well be hard to climb out of it… similar to the people climbing out of the 3D street artwork by Kurt Wenner. Titled 'Dies Irae', it refers to the medieval Latin hymn of that name about the Last Judgment, traditionally sung at requiem masses. Not falling into the trap of constantly comparing ourselves to others in the first place would mean that we didn't have to then try to climb out of it…
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