Last Sunday’s reading from the second chapter of Mark shows how fast things move in Mark’s Gospel. We already see our Lord performing great wonders as he moves throughout the country. At the same time, those wonders are producing opposition that will ultimately result in the crucifixion of the Lord.
Jesus had just told a paralytic man that his sins were forgiven and the religious leaders of that day were up in arms. “How dare you say that! No one can forgive sins except God alone.” Jesus does not respond to that charge because he agrees with it but to just show the relationship between himself and Yahweh, Jesus says to the paralytic in front of him, “I command you. Stand up. Pick up your mat and go home.” The crowds were awestruck and the reputation of the Lord grows stronger but his enemies see this new prophet in their midst as a real threat to their status and don’t look warmly towards being undercut by this young man from Nazareth.
The sick man in this story had everything against him. He was crippled and also was marked by human frailty. In a very real way, he stands in the place for all of us. We all have material and physical problems and we need God’s help, but we also are spiritually weak and sooner or later we need God’s forgiveness. When you say your morning prayers try to visualize the voice of Jesus leaping across the centuries and saying to you, “John, pick up your mat and go.”
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February 19th, 7th Sunday of the Year
Image from letitreachyou.blog.com
As I said last week, Mark lays out his thesis of his Gospel in the first sentence of the first chapter, that it was about the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Having said that, he moves quickly to provide motives for faith to his listeners and begins to relate the awesome powers that Jesus constantly exercised. Today’s except provides us a delightful and interesting story.
Jesus has quickly become famous, stories abound about his wondrous powers and throngs gather around him. Many of those coming want to be cured from terrible sicknesses and disease. Today, it is a question of a paralyzed man whose friends bring him. When they are frustrated that they can’t even get inside the building because of the crowd, they use their heads and carried the man up on the roof (I think that most roofs were flat at that time), removed some of the thatch and lower this man down from the sky. Isn’t that delightful?
Visualize our Lord delivering a major presentation on his message of salvation and suddenly right down in front of him, held by a blanket, comes the body of this crippled man. Our Lord was impressed but telling him he is cured is not the first thing he said. Rather, he said, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” That immediately caused a stir among his enemies. I will come back to that tomorrow how Jesus uses this need for a physical cure as a sign of a much greater power that he has; namely, to heal the relationship between frail human beings and an infinitely loving God.
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