The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Think BIG

"Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

Sunday, February 19, 2012
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time—B

Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
2Corinthians 1:18-22
Mark 2:1-12

It must have been awfully surprising and also disappointing for all those people crowded into the house in Capernaum who had come to listen to Jesus speak in today’s Gospel. They had heard about the miracles, the healings he had performed, and were eager to experience one in person. Then, when the roof was opened above them, and a paralytic was lowered down on a mat in front of Jesus, everyone must have held their breath with anticipation. “Here it comes—watch this!” many may have whispered.

Then Jesus looks at the paralytic and says, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

What? That’s it? Where’s the cure? We were expecting a miracle! What a disappointment! We walked all the way over here for this? No one but God can forgive sins, anyway. This guy’s a fraud!

Even the learned scribes present couldn’t see the true miracle that had occurred right in front of them. They began to scoff and condemn Jesus.

But the paralytic knew what had happened. What peace he must have experienced deep throughout his soul as he looked back at Jesus while everyone around them was caught up in their own expectations and judgments. His sins were forgiven, wiped away, removed forever!

Of course, such a miracle—a true miracle—could not be seen outwardly, but only with the eyes of faith. The forgiveness of sins by God is the “something new” foretold by Isaiah in today’s first reading. “It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses,” God says. “Your sins are forgiven.”

This is what we as human beings truly need (and truly want, at least unconsciously), but like the crowd in today’s Gospel, we sell God short. We think small, while God thinks BIG. We want physical healings, miracles, things we can see with our eyes and be amazed by. Anything we can’t see, we doubt, trapped within our own expectations. Anything we do see, we instantly judge according to those preconceived notions. Too often, we remain focused solely on the external.

This must have grieved Jesus in today’s Gospel story. He had saved a soul. However, everyone but the paralytic (and possibly his friends) expected less than what God wanted to give. They expected Jesus to heal this man’s body.

What? That’s easy! Jesus said, in so many words. “Can’t you see what I have done, what the forgiveness of sins means for this man and for all of you?” He must have sighed at the crowd’s lack of faith that was so evident to him in the paralytic’s friends. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth, [then, turning to the forgiven paralytic] I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

He did. And only then was the crowd astounded.

God wants to give us so much more than we expect. He did not become man to remove our physical suffering. He certainly came to console us in our trials, to share in our suffering, and to take upon himself all our burdens, even to death on a cross. But he did this primarily to forgive our sins, to heal our souls which were broken by the Fall of Humanity. He came to restore to us what we had lost—eternal union with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And to do this, he inserted himself into a time and culture that directly associated sin with physical and mental illness and disability. He performed external healing to signify internal healing, to show us that God saves souls from sin, that he means what he says and that we should settle for nothing less.

The Hebrew form of Jesus, after all, means God saves. “See, I am doing something new,” God says. Think BIG!

As St. Paul says in the second reading, “The one who gives us security in Christ and who has anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.” God is faithful, and when we lower ourselves before him in faith, no matter how imperfect or paralyzed by sin we may be, he says to us, “Child, your sins are forgiven. Rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

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