17 February 2012

'My child, your sins are forgiven.' Sunday Reflections, 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 2:1-12 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowds made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, 'My child, your sins are forgiven.' Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, 'How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?' Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, 'Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven" or to say, "Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk?" But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,' - he said to the paralytic - 'I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.' And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, 'We have never seen anything like this.'

An Soiscéal Marcas 2:1-12 (Gaeilge, Irish)

Roinnt laethanta ina dhiaidh sin, ar theacht ar ais go Cafarnáum d Íosa fuarthas fios go raibh sé sa teach,agus bhí an oiread sin daoine cruinnithe ann nach raibh slí ann fiú amháin timpeall an dorais, agus bhí sé ag labhairt an bhriathair leo. Tháinig daoine ag tabhairt pairilisigh chuige ar iompar idir ceathrar. Nuair nárbh fhéidir leo teacht ina ghar mar gheall ar an slua, nocht siad an díon os a chionn, agus tar éis dóibh poll a dhéanamh, lig siad síos an tsráideog a raibh an pairiliseach ina luí inti. Nuair a chonaic Íosa an creideamh a bhí acu, dúirt sé leis an bpairiliseach: “A mhic, tá do pheacaí maite.” Bhí cuid de na scríobhaithe ina suí ansiúd ag smaoineamh ina gcroí: “Cad a bheir dó seo labhairt mar sin? Is diamhasla dó é. Cé fhéadann peacaí a mhaitheamh ach amháin Dia?” Ach thuig Íosa láithreach ina spiorad go raibh an smaoineamh sin ina n-aigne agus dúirt sé leo: “Cad a bheir na smaointe sin in bhur gcroí? Cé acu is fusa, a rá leis an bpairiliseach: ‘Tá do pheacaí maite,’ nó a rá: ‘Éirigh, tóg do shráideog, agus siúil’? Ach chun go mbeadh a fhios agaibh go bhfuil údarás ag Mac an Duine ar an talamh peacaí a mhaitheamh” – dúirt sé leis an bpairiliseach: Deirim leat, éirigh, tóg do shráideog agus gabh abhaile.” D’éirigh seisean agus thóg an tsráideog láithreach, agus d’imigh amach os comhair cách, ionas go raibh alltacht orthu uile agus gur thug siad glóir do Dhia á rá: “Ní fhacamar a leithéid seo riamh.”

Fr John Looby SJ, editor  of the wonderful monthly of the Irish Jesuits, The Sacred Heart Messenger , told of an incident when he was a young priest. He was driving in a remote part of the west of Ireland when his car got bogged down after veering of a road that hardly anyone used. He stood by his car, wondering if anyone would come along who could help. Eventually a car came along and stopped. Out stepped four or five young men, aged about 20 or 21 who laughed when they saw his predicament. Then they went over to his car, picked it up, put it on the road. Then they got back into their own car, still laughing.

I’m certain that the four men who carried the paralytic in today’s gospel were just like the men who helped Fr Looby, young, full of energy, imagination and care. Would older men have had the audacity to remove the tiles from the roof and lower him so that Jesus could see the situation of their friend?

Jesus, seeing the faith of the four enterpising young men, responded in a way tha they and the paralysed man hadn't expected. My child, your sins are forgiven. When challenged about this he showed his authority to forgive sins by saying, I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.

Dr Bernard N. Nathanson (31 July 1936 – 21 February 2011)
The late Dr Bernard Nathanson, a leading abortionist in the USA who later became a leader in the pro-life movement there, was baptised by Cardinal John O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, in 1996. Dr Nathanson was Jewish and had been an atheist. He was once asked why he had become a Catholic. He said that no religion provides as much opportunity for forgiveness as the Catholic Church does, and he had a lot to be forgiven for.
This is the last Sunday before Lent, a season when the Church calls us to repentance, to accept responsibility for our own sins and to acknowledge God’s loving mercy. The Church has always carried on the mission of healing, both of body and soul. As a priest, I have experienced God’s love for us in our weakness and sinfulness, both as a confessor and as one confessing his own sins. I don’t know what I would do without being able to go to another priest, acknowledge my sins, especially since I seem to be telling the same ones each time. But I come away knowing that God loves me, that he wants only the best for me, that he wants me to go away with a spring in my step, like that of the young man he ordered to get up . . . and go off home.

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