Homily for the seventh Sunday of the Year

Year B - Mk. 2:1-12


by

Canon Dr. 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. "


Jesus had visited the towns surrounding Capernaum (cf. Mk. 1:38). He had just returned home, perhaps staying at the house of Simon Peter. But as soon as the townsfolk heard of his return, they hurried to him in order to hear him speak. "He was preaching the word to them." How they were drawn to him! One might think this movement of the crowd towards him was like some of those we see when a star or celebrity appears in public: with photographers, journalists, and cameramen present to transmit the event to greatest number of spectators! But let us take care not to be deceived: Jesus does not resemble these stars and celebrities; soon we shall see why...


" 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.' "


This episode starts off very well. And so much the better! Let us see what happens, in detail... A paralytic is brought to Jesus, carried by four men. One might think that four men would be too many to carry another man. Normally, two men would suffice to carry someone on a stretcher or a litter. Actually, the number four is a symbol: a symbol of holiness, of the purification of the soul and the body. The Sanctuary - the Holy of Holies - of the Temple of Solomon had a shape that was based on the square, being equal in length, width, and height (cf. 1 Kings 6:20).


There were four stretcher-bearers. Without them, the paralytic would not be able to go to Jesus: he need their help to reach him. But there is more. Saint Mark does not say that Jesus appreciates the faith of the paralytic, but rather the faith of all: that of the paralytic and the stretcher-bearers combined. "And when Jesus saw their faith..." It is a sign of communion. There is not only the sympathy and human compassion that the bearers express for the paralytic: there is also, above all, communion in a single faith in the Savior of the world, in the long-awaited Messiah so often proclaimed by the Prophets! This, therefore, is a sign of the communion of saints: borne by four men - four being the symbol of holiness - the paralytic would receive from Jesus, that is, from God himself, the forgiveness of his sins. "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. "


As we were saying, Jesus is not a celebrity. The scribes who were present took it upon themselves to demonstrate this to us. But first, how do we become a star or a celebrity? Is this not, in the great majority of cases, the perverse fruit of the demon of money? That is, when it isn't simply the cunning and deceitful creation of such and such Masonic lodge... The devil knows that Jesus cannot be bought, and that one cannot do with him as one pleases ; but this is not the case with celebrities, whom one creates for a certain time, and then are forgotten... So, the devil will try his usual tactic: lying. It works very well for him. Let us remember Voltaire's famous saying: "Lie! Lie! There will always be some more left over."


"It is blasphemy!" This is the lie the scribes tell about Jesus, after he had forgiven the paralytic his sins. But Jesus knows everything. He knows the thoughts of the lying scribes. Jesus is God: he knows all things, he understands all things. For the very Life of God is a Life of knowledge: "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God." (Jn. 17:3) (I have already cited this passage numerous times - for it is important - notably, three weeks ago.) So, the devil's lie is vanquished by the knowledge of God!


Jesus will not be content to reveal the lie of the scribes through the use of a few words. In fact, everything takes place in the spirit of Jesus and in the heart of the scribes. Besides, verbal jousting would serve no purpose. The spiritual power of the devil cannot be combatted without having recourse

to, and the aid of, a corporeal means. I say a corporeal "means", for it must be a reality, such as a good to which we are very attached (ourselves, for example), which we must give up and abandon out of love for God, the supreme and true Good. Sometimes, after we have abandoned this good, God gives it back to us. But one must nonetheless make a sacrifice of it, one that is spiritual and agreeable to God (cf. 1 P. 2:5). Without this sacrifice, the devil will not be conquered, and he can always find some way to get a hold on us.


To triumph over the lie of the scribes, Jesus heals the paralytic: this corporeal act signifies and realizes victory over the spiritual falsehood of the devil! Carried by four men, being one with them, the paralytic is liberated from his sins and healed of his infirmities!


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


So, is Jesus a celebrity? Not at all, as we have already said. Perhaps Jesus can be said to resemble a celebrity? No, quite the contrary. It is the celebrities who try to resemble Jesus. Unfortunately, all the stars and celebrities we are familiar with may not know that Jesus is unique, and that no one may imitate him and resemble him in order to rob him of his proper Glory... Glory to God alone, through Mary, and for Mary! Amen!




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