23rd Week, Monday, Sept 7

1 Cor 5:1-8 / Luke 6:6-11
Paul talks about sin: Remove the old yeast of sin. 
1. In her book Winning by Letting Go, Elizabeth Brenner explains how people in India catch monkeys. They cut a small hole in a box. Then they put a tasty nut in the box. The hole is just large enough for the monkey to put its hand through. But it's too small for the monkey to withdraw its hand once it has clutched the nut inside.
 So, the monkey has two choices. It can let go of the nut and go free, or it can hang on to the nut and stay trapped. Monkeys usually hang on to the nut. The monkey is a good image of us, and the nut is a good image of sin in our lives. As long as we hang on to our sin, we cannot go free. We remain trapped. 
Sin is the greatest enemy of mental health and of peace of mind. Sin has made no man ever happy. In Corinth, there happened to occur a sin that was highly contemptible. A man was living together with his (probably divorced) step-mother. But what was worse: he was not expelled from the church. They had complacently accepted the fact and had done nothing about it. Not to be shocked by sin is a great danger to a person and to a community. As the poet has it:
Sin is a master of so frightful mien,
that to be hated has just to be seen
But seen too oft,
familiar with its gaze.

We first endure, then pity, then embrace. St Paul compares the power of sin with leaven: In Jewish literature leaven was usually used for an evil influence. Once a year before the Pasch (Easter), a Jewish family had to get rid of the old leaven. With a burning candle, they searched the whole house and for a number of days they ate only unleavened bread. The last remnant of evil must be cleared out of the lives of Christians. Easter is the feast of the new life.
What sin do we hold on to in our lives? "One leak will sink a ship; and one sin will destroy a sinner." John Bunyan 
2. When Jesus entered the synagogue that sabbath, he knew it was not going to be a meeting for prayer to fill their minds with God’s word to guide them in the coming week. He knew he entered a trap and he entered it fearlessly. Ostentatiously, they had placed a cripple in the first row as a bait. Would he cure on a sabbath? Jesus did not flinch. When it is the question of truth, there can be no compromise. In teaching the truth, there can be no escape. He knew the danger. He could without any difficulty have waited till the next day. When the truth is challenged, Jesus acts. Luke shows himself again as the physician. Matthew and Mark also have this story. Luke alone mentions it was the right hand. This matters to the physician. The right hand is the hand that is the most important to the skillful worker. It is the ability to earn his daily bread that Jesus restored. The right arm had till now just been limply hanging down. Jesus asked him to stretch it out. He did and was cured. Teaching in life situations was the favourite educational method of Jesus.

3. The term "common sense" may look like self-explanatory and it is the basis of all thinking and reasoning. But when things get too muddled up and the thinking and reasoning becomes unclear, then we use another principle and that is "go back to basics".

In the gospel, the scribes and Pharisees have devised a set of rules and regulations about the Sabbath and the Law that it had become so complex and confusing.
And they were watching Jesus to see where He would step out of line. Yet Jesus took the situation and appealed to common sense by going back to basics. So, He asked the question: is it against the Law on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life or to destroy it?

If the gospel passage showed how people can lose their common sense, then the 1st reading showed how even Christians can deteriorate into immoral and shameless creatures.

St. Paul warned that even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough. Yes, even a small sin is enough to make us lose our common sense and make us behave worse than animals. Let us go back to basics and go back to Christ, our bread of life, who empowers us with sincerity and truth. Then, everyday, we will be able to do good and give life to others.
Let us pray: God our Father, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ.   He went around doing good   and no law made by human beings could keep him   from carrying out his mission of life and love.   Let your Spirit enlighten us   to understand his mentality   and to give first place to what is important, that we may live by the law of love   of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God bless.