Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
After some days, Jesus returned to Capernaum. As the news spread that he was in the house, so many people gathered, that there was no longer room even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the word to them, some people brought to him a paralyzed man. The four men who carried him couldn’t get near Jesus because of the crowd, so they opened the roof above the room where Jesus was and, through the hole, lowered the man on his mat. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.
”Now, some teachers of the law, who were sitting there, wondered within themselves, “How can he speak like this, insulting God? Who can forgive sins except God?”At once, Jesus knew in his spirit what they were thinking, and asked, “Why do you wonder? Is it easier to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your mat and walk?’ But now you shall know, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”And he said to the paralytic, “Stand up, take up your mat and go home.” The man rose and, in the sight of all those people, he took up his mat and went out. All of them were astonished and praised God, saying, “Never have we seen anything like this!”
“My son, your sins are forgiven.”
There are numerous protagonists in this story. First: the friends of the paralytic, whose faith Jesus acknowledges. When there is no way to Jesus, they make a way, believing that in Jesus’ presence their friend will be healed. (Do we also carry our friends to Jesus in prayer?) Then there is the paralyzed man, whom Jesus first forgives, before healing him. Jesus sees the paralytic, addresses him with love, restores his spirit, and raises him to full humanity.Then there are the grumblers, those who want Jesus to operate according to rules they can control and define: Heal if you must, but not forgive sins! They are scandalized that he proclaims a kingdom of mercy, rather than a kingdom of law and order. Are they sincerely furious that Jesus usurps God’s exclusive prerogative of forgiveness? Or are they furious over the scandal of forgiveness itself? Pope Francis asks us to go to the margins, to the peripheries where people are alone and hurting: not just to the respectable people inside the house, but to those who are of no account, those who are left outside. Jesus came for them. He saw them. He loved them. And so must we.
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