Homily for the seventh Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 2:1-12


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.


"And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'My son, your sins are forgiven.'


"Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, 'Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Rise, take up your pallet and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins' -- he said to the paralytic -- 'I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.' And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!' "





Homily:


"When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them."


It can never be repeated enough: we Christians believe in Jesus the Son of God! We believe that he who lived among men about two thousand years ago and who is called Jesus of Nazareth is not only a man, but also a God, the one God, thrice Holy! We believe that what Jesus said is not only a human word, but also, above all, the Word of God. This is what Saint Mark is pointing out when he says that Jesus "was preaching the word to them" (Mk. 2:2).


Is this not wonderful? How fortunate we are! Or rather, what a grace God has given us! We are alive today, in the year 2003, but we could very well have been born three or four thousand years ago: it is good fortune, it is a grace to live in the twenty-first century! Let me be clear: I am not saying that we may have many lives. There is no use in thinking of reincarnation: we have but a single life, which God gives us in order that we might serve him and praise him while we are here below, and then forever in Heaven!


I will repeat it: do not even think of reincarnation. It is something impossible. For, during your life, you either do or do not believe in God. If you have decided not to believe in God, then you are already condemned, already in this life, once and for all. When you die, you will not have more lives ahead of you, but rather eternal death. On the other hand, if you decide to believe in God, then you will receive forgiveness for your sins, through the mercy of God. But above all, you will already be resurrected in Christ, and your death will not be a passage to other human lives, but rather your entrance into the eternal Life of God!


"And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'My son, your sins are forgiven.' "


Here is the mercy of God in action! Here is the reward of faith! "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'My son, your sins are forgiven.' " Faith opens the door to the action of the grace of God, which, before orienting the heart of man toward God, purifies his soul of all disordered attachments to creatures. For to purify man of his sins is this: to give him the strength, the power, the grace to not attach himself in a disordered, excessive manner to anything that is not God. All creatures are good in themselves. But when a creature - for example, a revolver - is designed or used for evil ends, then it becomes evil, for the intention of its designer or user is evil...


"Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, 'Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Rise, take up your pallet and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins' -- he said to the paralytic -- 'I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.' And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all."


Some of the scribes who were present reproached Jesus, who, by forgiving the sins of the paralytic, was making himself God's equal... Jesus then demonstrated his divinity by commanding the paralytic to get up! And thus the order of things was respected. Indeed, by forgiving sins, Jesus manifested, above all, the fruits of his future Passion, while when he commanded the paralytic to get up, Jesus was instead announcing his own Resurrection, his own rising. First the Passion, then the Resurrection: the order of things is preserved.


I did not say that the paralytic was dead, and that Jesus resurrected him! Nor did I say that Jesus in the tomb was like a paralytic: in the tomb, Jesus was truly dead, and, by himself, he returned to life, thus proving that he is God, like his Father, in the Holy Spirit! One may associate the spiritual and corporeal healing of the paralytic with the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, but the two cases are not identical!


"They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'"


Together with the crowd of people present then, let us glorify God! With Mary, the Mother of Jesus, present in the crowd, in the midst of all those who were, already, like her children in the Holy Spirit, let us thank the Lord for having called us into his service, in a single faith, a single love, a single hope! May the grace of God always be in our hearts in order that we might praise God for his benefactions and for his Power! Amen!




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