Friends of Faith

Mark 2: 1-12
1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22a / Psalm 89:16-17, 18-19

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
(Mark 2:5)

What many may not realize
Forgiveness is what we all need;
While sin can trap and paralyze,
In Penance we are healed and freed.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that He had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and He preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in His spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and He said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat 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 tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2: 1-12)

Reflection

The healing of the paralytic must be one of the best known miracles in the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Narrative versions are also found in the other synoptic Gospels of Matthew (9:1-8), and Luke (5:17-26) that confirm the veracity of this event.

The story must have proceeded as follows: Four friends decide to help their paralytic buddy by bringing him to Jesus whom they learned had just returned to Capernaum, performing wonders in many places. They firmly believed that this Jesus must be a prophet of God if not the Messiah Himself, and decided that they would bring their paralyzed friend to Him by all means possible. As they neared the house where Jesus was teaching, they saw that a huge crowd had jammed the entrance and it was virtually impossible to bring their sick friend to Jesus. They figured that the only way that they could achieve their purpose was to open a big hole in the roof directly above where Jesus was, and lower their paralyzed friend down to where Jesus could minister to him. Our Lord must have admired their resourcefulness, determination, and deep affection for their paralytic friend. But above all, He was moved by their strong faith. And for these, He not only healed the paralytic, but more importantly, He forgave him all his sins. But His act of love could only evoke resentment from His critics, the teachers of the law, who silently accused Him of blasphemy. He proved them wrong by telling the paralytic to “get up, take your mat and go home.”

Today’s Gospel of Mark tells us how important it is to have friends of strong faith. They are the ones who bring us closer to Jesus. They are the ones who help us get back on our feet. Unlike the scribes who do nothing but criticize and judge others, true friends take the initiative, go out of their way to help, even if they have to face up to the damages incurred to solve the problem (like repairing the roof). Thank God if you belong to a charismatic community, for there you have found a good number of friends of strong faith. And I am sure you are one yourself.

Lord Jesus, thank You for making us realize that it is our sins that paralyze us, and render us helpless when we are in dire straits and in need of help. Thank You for the grace of Penance, which reconciles us back to You and the Father. And thank You for our “friends of faith” who help us when we are far from You. Bless them for their kind hearts and help them in their determination to beat the odds. Amen.

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