January 13, 2017

Jan. 13

January 13, 2017:  Friday, 1st week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Heart' pin:  Their ancestors didn't keep their hearts steadfast (psalm); "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?" (gospel)
  • 'Question mark' tie pin:  Jesus:  “Why are you thinking that?  What's easier to say:  ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Rise and walk’? (gospel)
  • 'Doctors office' tie:  Jesus heals a paralytic (gospel)
  • Green in shirt, and suspenders:  Ordinary Time season

Homily:  Faith must be ready to take risk; hope is the reward.  Some follow Jesus out of self-interest or because they're looking for a comforting word.  No intention is perfect; what's important is to follow Jesus.  People were drawn to him because of what he said and how; they understood him.  He healed them and many people followed him to be healed.  Sometimes he admonished people more interested in their own well-being than God's Word.  Other times people wanted to make him king, thinking he was the perfect politician, but they were wrong and he went away and hid.  Even so, the Lord let anyone follow him because he knew we're all sinners.  The bigger problem was not with those who followed him but with those who stayed where they were, those who just watched from the balcony, never getting involved or taking risks, just judging.  Remember the man who sat beside the pool for 38 years, embittered by life, hopeless….
Jesus' followers were ready to risk to meet him, to find what they wanted.  The men who made a hole in the roof risked the owner suing them, but they were ready because they wanted to go to Jesus.  The sick woman risked ridicule when she touched Jesus’ cloak, but she wanted to reach Jesus and be cured.  Remember the Canaanite woman.  Women risk more than men; they're better at it!
Following Jesus isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful, and it’s always a risk.  We may risk being ridiculous, but we achieve what counts:  our sins are forgiven.  Beneath whatever request we make, we want healing and forgiveness.  We know we're sinners, so we take risks to meet and follow Jesus.
Ask, Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?  Do I follow him because I need something, or because I'm ready to risk?  This is faith:  trusting Jesus.  With faith, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher so Jesus could cure the paralytic.  Do I put my faith in Jesus, entrust my life to him?  Do I walk behind him even if I seem ridiculous?  Or am I sitting still, watching others, watching life with a static, closed, bitter, hopeless soul?
    Wordle: Readings 1-16-15
  • Heb 4:1-5, 11  Be on your guard.  We've received the Good News as our ancestors did, but it didn't profit them because they weren't united in faith.  Let us strive to enter into that rest...
  • Ps 78:3, 4bc, 6c-8  "Do not forget the works of the Lord!"  We know and will declare God's glorious deeds so they may be faithful to his commands.
  • Mk 2:1-12  Jesus preached to the crowds at Capernaum.  They brought him a paralytic through the roof.  Jesus / scribes:  “Your sins are forgiven.” / “He's blaspheming; only God can forgive sins!” / “What's easier to say:  ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Rise and walk’?  But so you know the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins:  [to paralytic] “Rise, and go home.”  He did; all were astounded.
      • Creighton:  Today's psalm sketches the life of God’s chosen people over generations; it decries their faithlessness while extolling God's faithfulness.  In the midst of repeated losing and regaining of faith, it says they wander because they forget what God has done.  Pope Francis speaks of the need to be conscious of the Lord’s works in our lives lest we repeat our ancestors' mistakes; it brings joy!  Nothing can give us greater joy than to know the Lord's consoling presence.  We maintain this joy by remembering when the Lord “came through for me” or assured me of his mercy.  This generates hope that God can do it again.  God is faithful; forgetting how we've experienced it leads to darkness, doubt, restlessness, and moving away from prayer and joy.  What “works of the Lord” am I being invited to remember?  What events, graces, and gifts do I need to recall to reinforce my joy in the Lord?
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Stretching it":  Put yourself in the place of the paralytic.  Mats weren't very manageable then, and being carried by four is a rough ride.  And if he fell, he wouldn't be able to break the fall.  And he was carried up the outside steps, likely rough and precarious.  Imagine seeing the roof dismantled and being lowered through it via ropes, rags, or a sheet.  And his sinfulness doesn't give courage or faith.  When Jesus commanded him, he obeyed and was healed.  God's grace is sufficient, even in our weakness. Will you get on the stretcher and be carried to Jesus?
      • Passionist:  Today’s readings invite us to look at our faith through the lens of those who brought the paralytic to Jesus, stopping at nothing.  Don't underestimate the power of faith.  Who in your life needs to be brought to Jesus?  We can bring them to him in prayer.  The gospel doesn't mention the paralytic’s faith or desire for healing.  Your faith can bring healing.  God is so close to the suffering that he hears their friends' cry on their behalf.  Think about the layers of roof they had to remove; when you bring someone for healing, leave no stone unturned.
      The other lens is the paralytic's:  sometimes we need to let others bring us to Jesus, to be open to healing even if we can't see it for ourselves, to choose hope!  What keeps us from coming to Jesus and asking for healing?  There's always hope to remove the obstacles and let Jesus work in our lives.  Jesus preached the Word and called us to rest in him, but our idea of rest can be mixed-up.  Sabbath rest nourishes us and helps keep us close to Jesus.  May we come to understand the gift and power our faith offers....
        • DailyScripture.net:  "We never saw anything like this!"  Jesus' treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers.  When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of his friends' faith, Jesus first forgave his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because only God could forgive sins.  Jesus both proved his authority came from God and showed the power of God's love and mercy by healing the man's physical paralysis; he also freed him from his from his burden of guilt. The Lord is ready to heal us of body, mind, and spirit.  What cripples you?  "The Lord, wanting to save sinners, shows himself to be God both by his knowledge of secrets and by the wonder of his actions. 'What's easier, to say, "Your sins are forgiven" or, "Rise and walk"?'  He shows the likeness of the resurrection.  Besides healing body and mind, he also forgives sins of the spirit, removes the weakness of the flesh, and thus heals the whole person. It's great to forgive people's sins, and God alone can, but God also forgives through those to whom he has given power of forgiveness. But it's more divine to give resurrection to bodies, since the Lord is the Resurrection" (Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke).

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