Three Kinds of Men
Luke 6:6-11 (Richard Rohr)
How many characters can you identify in this story? Which of them are you? I can readily identify three categories of persons in this story. The man with the withered hand, the scribes and Pharisees, and Jesus.
The Man with the Withered Hand: He typifies dysfunctional men. Did you observe that the scripture paid attention to the fact that it was his right hand that was withered? The right hand is the hand of productivity. Many of us are right handed and we often use this hand to engage the world. This is the plight of those unable to achieve what they desire. They are often frustrated by their inability to be relevant. This man is a weakling. He just stands there gawking at all that was happening around him. He is lacking in initiative or determination. He does not ask for anything; he does not even ask for Jesus to cure him. He is aloof and disinterested in life. It was Jesus who took the initiative to attract his attention. He is almost like a zombie. Jesus did all the action in this story. He could not even thank Jesus after the cure unlike others in the scripture; neither did he praise God or talk to others about it. He actually feels entitled. He does not make life happen. He does not even seem to care that he is going nowhere in his life. He only responds to stimuli as a sign that he is animate. This kind of person is such a disappointment to have around. Many men do not know how to engage life. The only thing that gives them some sense of motivation is SMA – Sex, Money and Alcohol. They actively seek power through this means as in their mind, it gives them control and some sense of importance. They can not seem to make decisions about what they want in life and from life. They have no interiority. They are empty within and cannot move the world forward. The only thing that seem to move these men is something external, like fear, the law or some more powerful authority. There is no spirituality within these men. They may seem larger than life but are internally hollow men. They need a spirituality as a way of gaining motivation and directing the course of their lives. This man definitely needs Jesus not only to heal him physically but spiritually from his inertia.
The Scribes and the Pharisees: This represents very religious people. Na dem carry Jesus for head. They are very churchy people, but in their over-enthusiasm they try to block God’s work.They are professional religionists, but they are not interested in the life-giving or healing message of Jesus. They are not interested in the freedom of the children of God (Rm. 8:21). They are rigid in their moral principles, trapped in their heads and blinded by doctrines. They are aloof to the plight of others but are quick to identify faults in others. They are the dog in a manger kind of people. They would set others free but would viciously attack whoever dares to do so. They are the Senior Advocates of God (SAG). These people use God as a front for them to have control. They find it difficult to articulate why they hold some of the positions they hold. They need a herd mentality to feel secure in their rigidity. They never walk alone like Liverpool. These people are found in politics, economy and any sphere of life. They hardly believe in individual consciousness or personal conscience.
Jesus: Jesus enters the room and there is light and freedom. Na man Jesus be. Jesus enters the scene and in one fell swoop instructs, empathises, commands, questions and resolves situations. He engages his accusers without panic because he is rooted in himself. He speaks with an inner authority and conviction of someone who knows his onions. Jesus does what needed to be done and does not even try to take credit. Jesus held tension in perfect balance. He transforms hatred into healing. He transforms pain rather than transmit it. Jesus left this toxic environment to retreat. The result of this retreat was the community he formed as a support system to his spiritual growth. Read Luke 6:12-13. Being in a hostile situation, with people who hate you can drain you emotionally and spiritually. Jesus found his way to handle negative and toxic people by retreating to reenergise. He distanced himself from his toxic accusers and the spiritual weakness of the man he cure to gather his own spiritual strength. Jesus introduces a new way of living outside the two examples of men giving above. The same manner toxic people thrive in the company of negativity, Jesus forms a community of positive living.
In summary, I observe two approaches to live in the foregoing passage. There was a referee and a coach. The referee passes judgement and the coach carves out the beautiful diamond lying hidden in the clay of your soul. I want you to go reflect on the kind of man you are. Flow with God’s Spirit. What sort of life are you living? Are you self-motivated or you wait for external stimulus for you to react to? Are you very rigid in your belief? Have you made peace with your sense of self? Are you a productive person or you are a burden to the community? Let the light of Christ shed its light upon your existence. Let the Spirit lead.
Fr. Tee, SMA