JESUS permitted neither time, place, nor circumstance to interfere with his healing work. One Sabbath day, when he was teaching in a synagogue, he observed a woman who could not straighten up. She had been that way for eighteen years. But Jesus did not see her as incurable. He saw the child of God's creating as spiritual, beloved, perfect, sinless. He knew that some false belief erroneously accepted had caused her difficulty, and he pointed out that Satan had bound her. To him the sin and suffering, and her belief in them, were all unreal.
Therefore, he proceeded to loose her from her bondage. He compassionately called her to him and told her she was whole. "And immediately she was made straight." She was lifted up by the application of the law of Truth, as Jesus knew it, the law which is divine and which governs man and the universe.
The audience that day apparently included many who were not in sympathy with Jesus' doctrine and practice, but the presence of those who did not think as he did, did not disturb him. Nor was he intimidated by the importance of the office of the ruler of the synagogue who rebuked him. Indignant that in his opinion the law of Moses had been disregarded by healing on the Sabbath, this high official would have had the woman remain crippled until another day.
Decisively Jesus pointed out that even animals must be cared for on the Sabbath and therefore that this woman surely deserved to receive what she needed. He could have avoided the rebuke by disregarding the suffering woman, but instead he turned the occasion into one of blessing for her and for many others who were present.
Luke closes his record of the incident with the statement that "all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." The incident is over, but its influence and lessons will continue to inspire healing work as long as there is need of healing and compassion. The gentle Jesus, wherever he was, lived the truth he knew and thus blessed the multitudes so greatly in need of that blessing. Many times when he healed there were present those who were in sympathy with his doctrine and friendly to him, and those who were not.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, followed Jesus' example and demonstrated his teaching to such an extent that the healing she accomplished through her spiritual understanding, regardless of time, place, or circumstance, is a challenge to us today. Mrs. Eddy also healed while she was teaching and preaching to audiences, as well as when she was about her daily occupation.
It is recorded in her autobiography that in the year 1878 she preached, by invitation, on several occasions in a church of another denomination. In speaking of the last meeting she held in that church, at which many testified to being healed through her preaching, she writes (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 15): "Among other diseases cured they specified cancers. The cases described had been treated and given over by physicians of the popular schools of medicine, but I had not heard of these cases till the persons who divulged their secret joy were healed."
Today we have The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with its branches in many parts of the world. Shall we not rejoice that we too may see those who are attending our church services restored? Many are being healed at the services, but many more will be when every Christian Scientist accepts the challenge to heal and demands of himself the complete healing of every inharmonious condition or circumstance in his everyday life.
In an article entitled "Healing the Multitudes" this statement occurs (Christian Science Sentinel, July 1, 1916, p. 867): "Mrs. Eddy once said to a student that she longed for the day to come when no one could enter a Christian Science church, no matter how sick or how sorrowing that one might be, without being healed, and that this day can come only when every member of the church studies and demonstrates the truth contained in the Lesson-Sermon, and takes with him to the service the consciousness thus prepared."
Here is a demand made upon us all which we can meet. Through the understanding gained by such study we learn what God is, and what man in His image and likeness expresses. The clear unfolding of the meaning of the references in the Bible and Science and Health does not always come as we read, but many beautiful revelations come as we ponder what we have read. It is not the quantity but the quality of our reading that counts.
The daily thoughtful study of the Lesson-Sermon in the Christian Science Quarterly purifies motives, spiritualizes desires, and brings to light great good. When our Lesson-Sermon is carefully worked with during the week, we eagerly attend the Sunday services, expecting further unfoldment and more complete demonstration of what we have gained. The early Israelites entered their places of worship purified, according to their custom and tradition, by sacrifices that were placed on the altar, which was always "at the door of the tabernacle." We too should enter our services purified by prayer and study, having placed upon the altar of Christian Science what we have lived and demonstrated of man in God's likeness.
With such consciousness of the allness of good, God and His expression, we shall not accept as true a congregation which includes sick mortals or those bound by false appetites, or grief, or fear. Rather shall we see and accept the perfection belonging to man which Jesus understood and saw that Sabbath in the synagogue when he healed the woman "bowed together." Neither shall we be tempted to look with false pride upon a costly edifice or with criticism upon a simple one; we shall not be disturbed by the temperature of the room, the appearance or manner of the Readers or soloist, the work of the ushers, or any arrangements necessary to hold the services. But, instead, we shall joyously remember the words of the Psalmist (24: 7): "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." We shall be radiantly expectant and joyously anticipate the healing of the multitudes.
In the report of the Annual Meeting of The Mother Church in 1906, the outgoing President, speaking of the opportunity before the branch churches to enlarge their hospitality, said (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 40): "This will imply the subsidence of criticism among workers. It may even imply that some who have been peacebreakers shall willingly enter into the blessedness of peacemakers. Nothing will be lost, however, by those who relinquish their cherished resentments, forsake animosity, and abandon their strongholds of rivalry."
And so, as we enter our places of worship, may we often think of that Sabbath when the Master preached and healed, allowing nothing to interfere with the fulfillment of his mission of love, as he said to the woman bowed down, "Thou art loosed from thine infirmity."