Except for one day in the temple and the times he dressed down his disciples or critiqued religious leaders, Jesus might seem as imperturbable as the Dalai Lama and as serious as the obituary page. Our piety can erase his humor and let holy card images bleach out his passion for life and people. A careful reading of today’s Gospel gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ passionate soul.
Mark says that Jesus looked at his critics with anger and was grieved at their hardness of heart. What incited his anger? People remaining oblivious to the plight of someone who, for lack of the use of one hand, would never be regarded as whole or be acceptable at anyone’s table. Why was Jesus grieved? Because his critics were squandering their own humanity through their self-righteous lack of compassion.
As a healer who shared God’s yearning that everyone enjoy fullness of life, Jesus could remedy the one man’s situation. What he could not do was to infuse compassion or solidarity in the hearts of closed people. That caused his grief.
We proclaim Jesus as the image of the invisible God. He reveals God’s passion for wholeness and God’s powerlessness in the face of stubborn rigidity. Today’s Gospel invites us to recognize what has withered within us and to turn to Christ for healing and wholeness. If we are willing, we can then share his passion for the life of the world.