February 22, 2009
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 the paralytic, "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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I know that you are moved by human suffering. What’s more, I know that you suffer when you see me paralyzed: handicapped by egotism and sinfulness. So I turn to you now, with filial confidence and love, certain of your love for me and your unfailing good will. Thank you, Lord. I offer you my lowly self in return, knowing this pleases you.
Petition: Lord, help me to overcome the obstacles that paralyze me as your apostle.
1. The Principles of Life and Movement
The fundamental law of life for a man or woman of the Kingdom consists in growth and conquest, for these are intrinsic to the Christian vocation. The first condition Christ lays down if we would be his followers is the need to deny ourselves and die to ourselves daily. And when he speaks about the Kingdom of God, he reaffirms this law of growth. The Kingdom is the seed that is cast into the earth and day and night never stops growing; it is the yeast that is constantly at work transforming the dough. God’s grace is a principle of life and movement, which is injected into the Christian and causes him to grow continually. Sometimes we stop growing spiritually because we reject God’s grace, or tire of serving others in need. Thus paralysis sets in.
2. The Mustard Seed of Faith
Let us recall the times of paralysis in which some generous and faithful soul led me to Christ to restore life to my limbs! Let us never stop rising above ourselves, and let us be ready to do the same for others. Anyone who really wants to rise out of this morass, and heal their spiritual paralysis and apostolic sterility should keep their eyes on the ideal they must follow—taken flesh in Christ. Christ never stops giving. He never refuses water to those seeds of faith germinating in the hearts of the paralyzed.
3. Breaking Through the Obstacles
Faith is contagious. It is beautiful to see the determination and ingenuity of the paralytic’s friends. They are willing to do anything to get their friend in front of Christ. The desire to transmit grace—the principle of life and movement—should encourage us to break through all obstacles. This same desire that was enough to keep people like Pope John Paul II active and constantly giving, long after his body was hampered by physical paralysis.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be a conduit of your grace by bringing others to you. Give me the gift of faith so as to believe in your power more than in the reality of obstacles that would paralyze me.
Resolution: I will be a witness of Christ today, either by speaking about Christ directly or by giving an example of supernatural charity.
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