What I’m Thinking: Purity and Compassion

It’s an old question: is it more important to maintain purity – to preserve something important – or to exercise compassion? Or rather, what are the things that you and I will preserve rather than extend help?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the thirteenth chapter of Luke (Luke 13:10-17). It’s a familiar story.

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. A woman came in who was bent over and unable to stand straight. Jesus told her that she would be free of that which had bound her, and sure enough, she stood up straight.

But the leader of the synagogue was displeased that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath until Jesus pointed out that everybody took their animals to be fed and watered on the Sabbath. Was it not right that this woman should be freed from what had bound her?

It’s an age-old question: between doing what is good and maintaining what is pure in our homes, in our religious observances, even in our communities and our nation. And the question of whether to maintain purity or whether to exercise goodness and compassion, well, it’s a debate that goes back and forth, back and forth, over the centuries.

I should mention that in the Mishnah and the Talmud, the works that emerged from the Jewish scholars in the second and the third centuries, they’re very clear that it is proper to act compassionately and to save life and to heal on the Sabbath just as Jesus had pointed out.

And so, here’s my question for this week: What is it that we use to prevent us from doing things that are good? What are the things that we want to maintain in their pristine state? What is the purity that we value more than compassion?

I assure you: Think hard enough and you will find things that we would rather do than heal.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on August 18, 2019

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