Thursday, February 19, 2009
Preparing for Sunday
We are preparing for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. It seems to me that it would be good to list the readings here for those who do not have them and want to look ahead of time: First Reading:Isaiah 43: 18-19,21-22, 24b-25; Second Reading: Corinthians 1:18-22; Gospel: Mark 2:1-12.
As I believe the Word of God is so powerful in the Gospel each day, let us begin with the story of Jesus curing the paralytic. Jesus has returned to Capernaum and it "became known that he was at home." So many gathered that there was no room for them, not even around the door. So, since they were not able to get near Jesus, four men who were carrying a paralytic climbed to the roof, opened a hole and let the man down on the mat he was lying on. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Child, your sins are forgiven."
Jesus goes to the heart of the matter. What is important is that this paralytic has his sins forgiven. The Scribes who were present immediately begin to accuse Jesus of blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"- he said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat and go home." He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
Sometimes, when I read this, I am the paralytic. My friends carry me to Jesus. Jesus then says to me, "Your sins are forgiven." And I know this is true; I feel cleansed, full of new joy and energy. It is easy to believe that Jesus can forgive sins because I have this experience every time I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I believe that Jesus waits for us to come to ask forgiveness, but here is a case where he freely announces the forgiveness without the paralytic saying anything aloud; Jesus sees the desires of our hearts. He is also aware of the desires of the friends that brought the paralytic to Jesus and did not let the crowd stop them from getting access to Jesus. Sometimes, I am the friends. I carry one in need to Jesus.
The other readings are also worth considering and I will reflect on them on Sunday. The response for Psalm 41 is "Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you."