A Touch

(I’m taking part in a Twitter Bible reading event, one chapter a day from Luke, John, Acts, called #Luke2Acts. This poem, in the form of two linked sonnets, was inspired by part of the chapter for today, 5th May – Luke 13:10-17)

I

Despite her constant pain she makes her way,
A weekly struggle over eighteen years,
To synagogue: it is the Sabbath day.
She comes to worship even through her tears.
She cannot stand up straight: her back bent double,
Her every movement burning agony.
She sings the Psalm of one who shares her trouble:
“How long, O God? Have you forsaken me?”
The stranger sees her, calls her to his side;
Her suffering has touched his love-filled heart.
Her need is strong enough to override
A law that would keep faith and work apart.
And yet no work is seen, for instantly
A touch is all it takes to set her free.

II

A touch is all it takes to set her free,
Yet people are so quick to take offence.
“All Sabbath work is evil; can’t you see
We’re following God’s Word?” is their defence.
There might have been some substance to their blame
If he had massaged, twisted into place,
Manipulated, acted worth the name
Of work; a touch, a gaze upon the face,
And all her prayers are answered. Can we see
The way of love against the way of hate?
He stares at them, at us: hypocrisy,
Unthinking condemnation, is put straight.
As simply as untying helpless beast
He acts; from Satan’s bonds we are released.

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