Always Time to Do Right

"Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath or not?" (Luke 14:3).

The phrase, "It is always time to do the right thing" was a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr, who often confronted those who said civil rights were needed but the time was not right. 

How many issues do we face today that demand resolution now?  Compassion for the poor, racial equality. care of the environment, honesty in government.   Were St. Martin de Porress alive today, where would be he be on these issues? Probably on the front lines of every protest and in places of service wherever there was oppression and unfairness. 

Jesus was constantly opposed by those who claimed his ideals but found some legal or social reason to caution him from acting on them.  Healing was a good thing, but not on the sabbath because it might be defined as "work.," which was forbidden.  In today's gospel, Jesus put the question directly to the Pharisees, but they remained silent, eager to see him break the law. Jesus promptly healed the man who just happened to appear at the gathering, and then shamed his critics with another question --  whether they would rescue a child or an animal if it fell into a cistern on the sabbath. Again, they did not answer. 

Jesus liberated the law to function in a common sense way by rejecting the legalism of his critics. They had steeped themselves in every nuance of the law with endless parsing of every regulation into minute categories applied to every situation, but they had lost the deeper purpose of the law, which was to facilitate the command to love God and neighbor. Small rules governing tithing and ritual purity or liturgical observance were elevated to a public show of piety, but leaders obsessed with appearance had missed the essence of religion-- compassion, justice and love. 

We are never excused from being compassionate if the need is there. Justice never waits for  the right conditions or for people to get used to a change in unjust social policies or equal treatment under the law. Love is a way of life, not a special occasion. It is always the right time to do the right thing.