Year B: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Mark 2: 1-12
Today we have the fourth in the series of healings which open Markís Gospel. Each healing has offered a different insight into what healing means - successful confrontation with evil forces - being able to serve - being restored to family and community. Todayís healing - the last for a while - offers another insight for us to reflect on.
Jesus has returned to Capernaum and finds Himself the centre of attention. As people gather around Him, He begins to teach them. However, the crowds are so great that those who seek healing cannot find a way through. One group is particularly determined and take the extreme step of climbing on the roof and making a hole in it large enough to lower their friend through.
It must have been an extraordinary sight - and we can only guess at the mix of emotions felt by those watching.
Jesus was evidently moved by the strong faith of the manís friends and honours that by healing him.
The healing was not what everyone expected - the healing this man needs first is of his soul. Jesus discerns that before anything else, he needs to be released from a deep sense of guilt.
Of course, this is less tangible - and, to many of those around would have seemed blasphemous as only God was seen to have power to forgive sin.
Jesus senses the disquiet and addresses it directly - posing the question: which is easier - to forgive sin or to make a paralytic walk? A question to which there is no real answer - how can either be possible?
Jesus then makes the manís inner healing visible by ordering him to get up - pick up the stretcher and walk. Half an hour earlier, he would probably have been unable even to try. Now, his soul has been liberated - and he knows the power of healing in this man Jesus. So, he does as bidden - and, as his soul was set free from guilt and shame, so his body is freed from its paralysis.
He picks up his stretcher and stands before the gathered people. They may have known the sin which had held him bound - and seen him becoming increasingly ill and disabled. They may well have muttered that he had brought it all on himself. But the man himself is confident in his healing - walks past them all and goes out into the world.
What does it mean for me?
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