JULY 1. Ord Time B. Wk. 13. Thu. Mt. 9. 1-8
Jesus got in the boat, crossed the water and came to his own town. Then some people appeared, bringing him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.’ And at this some scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ Knowing what was in their minds Jesus said, ‘Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts? Now, which of these is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘get up, and pick up your bed and go off home.’ And the man got up and went home. A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for giving such power to men.
In this reading Christ takes an unusual approach to a paralytic who comes to him with Faith, in that rather than curing his body, he says to him; - “Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven!”
I wonder if this was because the man’s faith was so strong that this is what he wanted himself; - or was it because Jesus wanted to show us that he saw the forgiveness of the man’s sins as the priority over the curing of his paralysis?
Or was it in order to “trap” the scribes into revealing their lack of Faith when they said, “This man is blaspheming!” It is interesting to note that Christ then went on to tell us that he “Knew what was in their minds” and so he went on and asked them; - “Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts?”
Given that he came among his people as a teacher I think the lesson, not only for the scribes but for all People of Faith was both; - to highlight the reluctance of the scribes, and many others, to believe in his teachings; - and to also educate us that we should see the health of our soul as the priority over our physical or material needs.
This attitude to our material needs does not come easily to us, because we have this inbuilt desire to want God to satisfy or remove both our needs and difficulties which he has bestowed on us out of love!
And if he accedes to these desires, we see ourselves as being “blessed by God”; - but Christ’s teaching in today’s Gospel was that our needs and difficulties should not be seen as our first priority; - but rather this should be state of our soul before God!
And was this not a consistent teaching throughout his life, where he endured suffering in order to bear witness to his love of sinners; - and also in order to make reparation for sin; - with his Passion and Death on Calvary being the ultimate witness to this same teaching?
And because suffering served these valuable purposes, Christ not only endured his sufferings and death, but he embraced them willingly; - because of their redemptive and atonement value towards both God and sinners.
Maybe the reason the paralytic in today’s Gospel did not have his physical ailments cured initially was because his concern was more for the state of his soul than for his bodily needs?
But if this was the case, he would have belonged in a very small group of believers who see their sufferings as an opportunity to atone for their sins; - something we are all invited to do!
Gospel Acclamation 2Cor5:19
God was in Christ, to reconcile the world to himself;
and the Good News of reconciliation he has entrusted to us.