What has withered?

In today’s gospel we encounter Jesus healing on the Sabbath: “There was a man there who had a withered hand” (Mark 3:1). The primary thread of this gospel account is Jesus’ controversy with the Pharisees about what good may be done on the Sabbath. The man with a withered hand is a silent witness to the miracle in his life. He doesn’t call upon Jesus to heal him; Jesus reaches out to him. He simply follows Jesus’ command, approaches and healing follows.

In the gospel there is more than the man whose hand had withered. So too has the heart of the Pharisees. Mark uses the word pōrōsei to describe their hearts. The word often translated as “hard” can also be translated as “dulled.” Their perception of good and grace had become rigid and stubborn. They were callous to the burden of the man.

Such is our life. We are often silent about that which has or is withering in our life. A withering “heart” which finds it has little energy to love, to pray, to desire, or to engage in life. It is dulled, grows rigid. We see the need for the good, yet stubbornly don’t respond. Our desires – spiritual, emotional, familial, fraternal – are withering away from what we remember about ourselves. What we once were.

And yet Jesus ever calls. Calls us forth for healing, to restore that which has been pulled back from our lives, no longer engaged, and hold us from being fully human. Jesus ever calls, commands us, to approach him that we may be renewed in the refreshing presence of his grace.

Consider that which is withering in your life. Then answer the call.

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