JHullingerThe Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Father Jon Hullinger
Luke 13:10-17

Today’s gospel passage is from the 13th chapter of St Luke’s Gospel. This is the last time Jesus teaches in a synagogue before his passion. He will heal again on the Sabbath but the next time it will be in the house of a leader of the Pharisees who has invited him to share his Sabbath meal.

Normally the dangers of legalism and the problems of the synagogue leader would be the focus of my thoughts as I reflected on this lesson … perhaps because that is a problem I am always struggling to avoid.

This year however, another problem surfaced as my focus shifted. Maybe it was the start of the new school year that shed new light on these particular lessons. I always loved the beginning of a new school year. New teachers and classes and friends. New clothes and new shoes, pencils, and supplies … I thought for a long time that we should celebrate New Year’s Day on the first day of school. That’s when all my best resolutions were made not when I was thinking about how to start a new calendar year. I wasn’t the date but the awareness of the promise and possibilities a new beginning; a fresh start that made that time so special.

In our first Old Testament lesson Jeremiah experiences much the same thing only in a deeper and more profound way when the Lord says to him “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you.” At that point the prophet begins to see himself in a new light, gains a new understand of his self-worth and is able to over-come his youth and inexperience.

Once we realize the beauty and depth of God’s love for us we can help but see ourselves and our future in a new light. And it’s hard not to feel as Jeremiah did that before we formed in the womb or born God knew us and consecrated and had a great plan for us. It is important to remember that this is true of everyone created in the image and likeness of God. We don’t want to get too theological and philosophical about how all that takes place … just knowing that from before very beginning everyone is valued and loved by the one who ultimately matters most, our Father in heaven … will do the trick.

Because now, when read about the women who was crippled for 18 years and unable to stand up straight, we begin to see in her what Jesus saw in her. Remember she does not ask for healing. Over the years, she has become accustom to her illness and resigned to her fate. She doesn’t cry out to Jesus and no one petitions him on her behalf. Jesus calls her over. He doesn’t ask he what she wants; he tells her she is healed. He sees past her ailment and frees her of it. He lays his hand on her and she stand up straight and begins praising God.

This is when I really miss Paul Harvey. Some of you may not remember him but he had a radio show that included a segment called “The Rest of the Story. It consisted of stories presenting little-known event or forgotten fact about someone. Then, after a commercial break Paul Harvey would return to fill in the blanks and give the name of the famous person he was talking about and always conclude with, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

In Gospel passages like this I always want to know… The rest of the story. What happened to this women? We know that she straighten up and praised God, but how the rest of the day, week, her life go? What was the “Rest of Her Story”? Luke doesn’t tell us.

I like to believe that she was not only healed and transformed but that maybe she was one of the women who followed Jesus on his way to the cross or went to the tomb early Easter morning … we don’t know … she may have been. Luke doesn’t tell us the ‘Rest of the Story’ we can only imagine what happens next… like the first day of school … the possibilities are endless.

And what about the religious leader of the synagogue? He was also known by God before he was formed in the womb and born and yet when he encounters Christ he experiences not healing, of say his hypocritical tendencies, but rather anger and resentment that anyone could so disregard the Sabbath law and heal someone on that sacred holy day of rest… as he quite reasonable says there are 6 days on which work ought to be done come on one of those and be cured not on the sabbath…

But did nothing happen to him? Was he one of those who participated in the conspiracy to crucify our Lord? We don’t know. Our lesson simply concludes with, “All his opponents were put to shame.” The Good News Bible says, “His answer made his enemies ashamed of themselves.” I personally like that better. Being put to shame doesn’t imply that his opponents necessarily learned anything but being ashamed of themselves seems to indicate that even his enemies realized they were wrong.

The leader of the synagogue could have dismissed Jesus as a radical and a reformer and went on his way. However, I like to believe he learned his lesson and may have followed Jesus from that day forward and even been with those who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It’s possible. We don’t know. Luke doesn’t tell us the ‘Rest of the Story … we can only imagine but I pray something like that happened to him because his hope means I have hope.

So, why doesn’t Luke tell us the Rest of the Story …
Well, actually he does because the rest of their stores, like all of our stories, are really the rest of Jesus’ story…

The point is not so much to became like the women as … as much as we may need healing in our lives and certainly not like the leader of the synagogue even if are continually missing the point and should feel bad and be ashamed about how we are treating others … No the point is to follow Jesus and to be Christ and his love for all of those who suffer any crippling aliment of any kind physical, emotional, moral, or spiritual. And to believe that if we can love as Christ did and see others as he does that all things really will work together for good and each day and every day will be full of the promise and hope of the first day of school or better yet the morning of Easter… and to God write the rest of the story.