A woman had been crippled by a Spirit for eighteen long years. But when she encountered Jesus, she was set free to live an upright and honourable life. Luke tells the story: Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, and a woman came in who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began to praise God (Lk 13:10-13).

The incident occurred in a holy place where the community gathered to worship the living God. While Jesus was teaching the group from the word, the woman sneaked in to hear Jesus. This was not the first time she was part of the community gathered to worship. The people must have been used to seeing her crippling handicap, and she would have likely been an object of pity for some. It had been eighteen long years since she had her gaze fixed on the ground.

Jesus immediately noticed her. He stopped his teaching mid-way and filled with compassion, gave his undivided attention to her and called her forth. In the presence of questioning eyes, He reached out to touch her and spoke life-giving words, “Woman, you are set free!”

Women today all over the world read this story and are reminded that God breaks all bondages. They too can experience freedom through the transforming life encounter with Jesus, enabling them to stand tall and straight regardless of crippling circumstances. Women are subjected to domestic violence at home and are raped, prostituted, trafficked into sexual slavery and domestic labour and even murdered by men. With respect to education, job opportunity and other social goods, men have greater advantages simply because they are born male. Have we forgotten that women are also created in the image and likeness of God?

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