Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Mark (3: 1-6) in which Jesus heals the man with a withered hand, after asking the Pharisees, “Is it against the law on the Sabbath day to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Fr Paul says this is the last of a series of five incidents, starting at the second chapter of Mark’s Gospel, that deals with the controversy in Galilee with the Jewish authorities. Mark has gathered them together, just as he gathers the parables in Chapter 4. Later there will be a corresponding group of five controversies with the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem (12:1-37). In the present group the hostility of the opponents of Jesus is gradually increasing, until at the end there is already the ominous hint of the death-threat. The shadow is already hanging over Jesus. This threat is a quite new dimension, different from the discussions about legal observance which have always been endemic in Judaism. In this Gospel we hear no more about the Herodians until the final plot to get Jesus (Mark 12:13). The Herodians were presumably a political party who wanted the Herod family to maintain their rule in Palestine, though the southern part (Jerusalem and Judaea) was now under direct Roman rule.In closing Fr Paul notes the Gospel Lesson for today: Every life, even the life of Jesus, has those tough moments, those moments of confrontation, when it seems that everything is against us. But these tough moments can always be overcome with the help of God.