Saint Luke tells us that the synagogue official was “indignant” that Our Lord worked a miracle of healing on the Sabbath day (Luke 13:14). He wasn’t outraged or angry; but indignant, a reaction you might expect from someone who feels personally slighted or insulted. Is it possible that this man became jealous of Our Lord and his healing power because he felt that his own authority as a religious leader was being undermined?
Isn’t it amazing how this man missed out on the miracle that took place right in front of him, all because he was so concerned for himself? Wouldn’t you expect him to be happy instead, because this woman—who was probably a member of his own congregation—was finally healed after eighteen years of suffering? But rather than being grateful, he justified his resentment by resorting to the letter of the law: no work on the Sabbath meant no miracles either.
Our Lord responded by pointing back to the very law that the synagogue official knew so well. Our Lord reminded him how animals are allowed to be untied so they could graze on the Sabbath. Shouldn’t this woman, who was much more valuable than an ox or a donkey, be loosed from her bonds? The official had no choice but to listen to the praise and wonder flowing from his congregation—not towards himself but towards this visiting rabbi.
It’s important to be on the lookout for similar dilemmas in our own lives. Life is full of situations in which we are tempted to feel neglected or undermined. But dwelling on these offences is likely to stunt our growth in faith. What’s more, if we spend our energy justifying these feelings we, like the synagogue official, risk missing the miracles God is working in our very midst.