Jesus’ healing of the man with the paralyzed hand reported by the three synoptic Gospels raises the question of mercy and its application at the heart of human rules. “Is it lawful to do healing on the Sabbath days?” ; this was the question addressed to Jesus in order to confuse him…
Here is a miracle performed at the heart of religious prescriptions. The Gospels tell us that one Sabbath day a man with a withered hand met Jesus in a synagogue. In a gesture of mercy, Jesus then asked him to stretch out his hand and instantly healed him. However, Jesus performs this miracle on the Sabbath; However, there were numerous and very strict rules governing Jewish society at the time of Jesus; these organized not only the organization of the Temple, but also the daily lives of men and women of the Jewish faith.
Inherited from the time of the Exodus and Moses , the Mosaic Law bearing the name of Judaism’s first prophet was – and still is – recorded in the Torah. The very essence of the Jewish faith in the God of Abraham, this Law structured society in all its daily details including the essential day of the Sabbath, a day of rest extending from Friday evening to the following evening in order to commemorate the seventh day of the Creation and rest of the Lord. Still strictly observed today by practicing Jews, this day imposes rules limiting human activities as much as possible in order to refocus them on family and prayer. So when the scribes addressed Jesus with the question: “Is it lawful to do healing on the Sabbath days?” “, it was not a trivial question but rather a trap that they set for him…
Mercy against the blindness of hearts
Although the trap was obvious, Jesus was not impressed. As usual, He questions his interlocutors in return by asking them ( Mt 12:11 ):
If one of you has one sheep, and it falls into a hole on the Sabbath, will he not grab it and bring it up again?
But, faced with this mercy which wins the hearts of all the people assisting in this healing, it must be emphasized that this miracle and this response nevertheless earned Jesus a death sentence in the minds of the Pharisees revolting against such a violation of the rules. more sacred.
However, Jesus brings a message of mercy that transcends and justifies all the laws of men, including those most sacred. Without making Jesus a revolutionary seeking to sweep away all the rules of men, He calls for the intelligence of the heart and not the legalistic intelligence of the Pharisees. Also Jesus will remind his opponents that it is therefore permitted to do good on the Sabbath, which He accomplished by healing the sick instantly. This essential teaching will be recalled by Pope Francis in 2015 in the Bull Misericordiae Vultus for the Jubilee of Mercy :
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.The mystery of the Christian faith is there entirely.Having become alive and visible, it reached its summit in Jesus of Nazareth.
The Pope continues:
He sent his Son born of the Virgin Maryto definitively reveal his love to us.Whoever sees him has seen the Father (cf.Jn 14:9).Through his words, his actions, and his whole person, Jesus of Nazareth reveals the mercy of God.
It is very precisely this absolute gift that the artists of the Duomo di Monreale in Sicily represented on this Byzantine mosaic dating from the 12th and 13th centuries; Splendor created on a gold background by the best artists from Constantinople, Venice or the region and covering almost 10,000 m2 of surface area!
Public domain I Sibeaster — Own work
This series of mosaics relates the greatest events of the Old and New Testaments, a veritable Bible in multicolored tesserae. On the South Aisle (from east to west), one of them evokes the miracle of the healing of the man with his paralyzed hand in a representation that is both sensitive and majestic. Jesus sits in majesty in order to recall his divine nature but he knows how to be close to the little ones by generously extending his hand towards the disabled man in order to heal him. Surrounded by his disciples but also by the Pharisees awaiting his fall, Jesus finds himself face to face with human weakness which he once again chooses to console despite the envy and hatred which weigh on him.