January 15, 2021 (readings)
- Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
- Marybeth Harper
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, please open my heart and my mind to the lessons you have for me as I reflect on this Scripture. I know you always want the very best for me and that you meet me in these moments of quiet so that I can get to know you better and trust you more.
1. His Ways Aren’t Ours: Jesus was just beginning his public ministry and already crowds encircled his home until there was no room for them. This crowd–these individual souls–were of utmost importance to Jesus; they were the very reason he came to earth. With all eyes on him, Jesus did not choose at first to work an astounding miracle. He chose to preach the word. Even when the paralytic was brought before him, Jesus was intent on working an “invisible” miracle—the forgiveness of his sins. Only to convince the doubters did Jesus perform a physical healing. Jesus has one priority—that we listen and obey the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church, and seek forgiveness of our sins when we fail to do so. This is a matter of eternal life or death.
2. Counting on Friends: The paralytic relied on four men to bring him close enough to Christ to obtain both physical and spiritual healing. These men were likely good friends of the paralytic. Friends draw us closer to Christ. According to St. Maximilian Kolbe, “God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends, we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal.” Scripture talks of friendship as well: “Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth” (Sirach 6:14-15). And how does one find friends like these? “Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; those who fear God will find them” (Sirach 6:16).
3. Christ Knows: We hear in these verses that “Jesus immediately knew what they were thinking to themselves.” Jesus always knows what’s on our mind too—our loving, compassionate thoughts as well as our less kind thoughts. We can’t hide any of our thoughts from God. If he already knows what’s on our mind, why do we pray? We pray because prayer is an act of faith, hope, and love; because Jesus told us to pray and set a good example; because prayer is a simple way to share our very human wants and desires with God who loves us; because prayer avails us of grace which can help to align our will with God’s; and because through prayer we may be blessed beyond our wildest expectations.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, teach me to pray. Send the Holy Spirit so that I may pray well. I want to be united to you as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your word. Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful friendships I have and help me to be a good friend to others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reach out to a friend and express my gratitude and love for him/her.
For Further Reflection: “Friendship, as has been said, consists in a full commitment of the will to another person with a view to that person's good” (St. John Paul II).
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