December 7, 2020

Gospel LK 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”
Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”

Reflection

One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were among the religious elite. They deliberately gathered from throughout the entire region to observe whether Jesus would say or do anything in violation of religious law.

And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

This story calls me to examine the depth of my faith. To what lengths would I go to make Jesus known to a sick friend or to a stranger?
It is an important question; Jesus told us to “spread the ‘Good News” of His love and hope, to let our good works shine in order to draw others to Him.

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

Jesus was intent on alleviating human suffering and speaking truth to those in power even while being closely scrutinized and ridiculed. Every day we are presented with opportunities to do the same. Do I have the strength to put my faith into action?

As the line of cars move slowly toward the mall entrance, a man stands on the curb holding a Help Me sign. Can I withstand the barrage of horns and the ridicule of those who consider me foolish or naive?

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

The religious leaders believed that suffering was God’s punishment for sin.
In their minds there could be no healing for the paralyzed man unless his sin was first forgiven. They believed that only God could forgive sin.

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”

We may not see the paralyzed pick up their stretcher and go home, but we can see and do “incredible things” every day by offering a kind word or sharing our blessings with someone less fortunate.

Can I find the courage to stop and offer a little help and hope from Christ?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9