Seventh Sunday of the Year February 22, 2009

Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12
The Eucharist is the power-house for action. After listening to God’s Word and being filled with the grace coming from the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, the Christian goes forth to fulfill the message which he has just received. Often we take the words for granted. We speak hundred and thousands of words daily without giving much thought to this human activity. God speaks and his word is powerful and Bible tells us that it is creative. He utters the word and man is forgiven and he says let it be and there is light earth and sea. Jesus says you rise and the life is given and he says your sins are forgiven and the person is healed.
In the first reading we have Prophet Isaiah who speaks on behalf of the Lord Who has erased from His memory all sins committed in times past as He is about to open up new horizons for he who asks forgiveness and promises to start afresh. The Lord says: No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before.”Although God has formed a new race to spread around His praise, this nation has failed to call upon the Lord its God and instead of praise offered Him sins and wrong-doing. God continued by saying through the prophet Isaiah that He was going to do something new. Something new is something different. As we know from modern technology, when something new is invented, it is supposed to be better, more convenient. It replaces the old. So also God makes things different, more convenient and more helpful. More so God does the changes spiritually. He says “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Everything will be changed. Yet the Lord declares that it was Him Who had cancelled the nation’s sins from memory. He is the one who gives them the living water and gives them a new life and this life is forever.
In the Second Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul refers to God’s categorical statement to humanity in sending His Only Begotten Son into the world for our redemption. We are now duty bound to show praise by believing for it is God Who has given us all fulfillment in Jesus through Whom He has consecrated us unto Himself, bestowing the Holy Spirit in our hearts to make the Trinity complete within us. Our response to God’s promises should be “Yes!” as the response of our Lord Jesus was always “Yes!” to our Heavenly Father. God was not inconsistent with us by saying “Yes!” and then “No!” As such, we should not be inconsistent with God. Through Jesus, every one of God’s promises were fulfilled, we being living witnesses of each promise found in the Old Testament. As such, our response to prayers is always “Amen” for the glory of God, “Amen” meaning “Yes!” The same God set His seal on us by placing His Spirit in our hearts as his first gift. Three things stand out here. God anointed us. He marked us with a seal. He gave us His Spirit.
In the Gospel we see the popularity of Jesus. We have seen him as a teacher preacher and miracle worker. The disciples saw a new dimension of Jesus and that is his demand and longing for prayer. They would have been shocked when he touched the leper and healed him. Now the greater shock is awaiting them where he shows himself as a spiritual healer by forging the sins, a task that is of the dominion of the divine. Yet it is clear as it is mentioned in the first reading that he makes everything new. The people could say that it is a new kind of teaching. They are all eager to hear what he is saying, for “no man spoke like this man” and he spoke, not like the Scribes, but “as one having authority”.
We move to the Gospel of St Mark. The carriers of the paralyzed man had great faith in the Lord’s doing. Seeing no way in, they go up by the outside staircase of the house on to the flat roof, remove a few tiles and let the man down right at the feet of Jesus. The house in Palestine had low height roof and often with tiles or grass to keep the house cool. It was easy to fix or remove. Jesus is touched by their determination which is a measure of their faith, trust and confidence in him. He perceived all things in a new way. He saw the man’s illness as a consequence of his sins and healed him telling him his sins had been forgiven. Jesus thus showed that He had the same might which was attributed to God Almighty, and this consequently showed that He was emanating from the Father as His Son with all power to do anything and undo all sins on earth. Jesus says, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” This is a surprising statement. The man came for healing of his physical disability, not forgiveness. But in the way Jesus sees everything as new. For him the healing is the total healing of the person both physical and spiritual. There is nothing that is called as half healing for him.
This would certainly have shocked people particularly the elite group like the scribes present there and they say to themselves, “The man is blaspheming. Only God can forgive sins.” It was believed that not even the Messiah would have the power to forgive sin and here there is an ordinary person who says your sins are forgiven. Here we visualize the confidence of Jesus as he challenges the people. “Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your bed and walk’?” in a way both these commands were difficult for the ordinary person. Yet here is the revelation of his being the son of God, the Messiah. He tells the sick person: “Rise, pick up your mat and go home.” At once the man picked up his sleeping mat and walked out in front of everyone. The crowd is amazed and they just admire the personality of Jesus.
At the time of Jesus sickness and sin were inter linked. The people of the time associated any sickness with the sin of the person. Hence there was nothing strange in the pronouncement of Jesus in bringing about the psychological healing. Yet the role that he assumes of being God and revealing it to people shocks the scribes. Even our times physicians establish a close relationship between sickness and broken relationships leading to mental stress and physical ailing. Hence total healing is a must for us that is both physical and spiritual. Thus if I am actively now a loving person – loving God, loving those around me and loving my self in a proper way, then there is no sin in me, no matter what I may have done in the past. God has no memory of my past. He does not keep detailed accounts of my behaviour. He only loves me and wants me to accept his love and let it flow in and through me as he is just waiting to throw his arms around me.

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