February 19, 2012 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the Old Testament reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, we hear the Lord say, “See, I am doing something new. … You burdened me with your sins, and wearied me with your crimes. It is I, I who wipe out, for my sake, your offenses; your sins, I remember no more.”
Then, in the Gospel from St. Mark, we hear Jesus forgive the sins of the paralytic, healing him spiritually before He heals him physically. The paralytic’s friends brought him to Jesus, knowing that Christ is the all-powerful healer, and, St. Mark tells us, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
It is a fitting theme as we draw near to the season of Lent, preparing to celebrate the greatest miracle of all – Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. Truly, though, it is a fitting theme throughout the year as we strive to follow Christ. He came to Earth in order to forgive sins, to take our sins upon Himself and suffer their consequences, offering us, in return, everlasting life.
What a merciful God we serve.
He is here for us. He wants us to come to Him and lay ourselves at His feet, just like the paralyzed man, humbly recognizing our sinfulness and our need for His love and mercy. He pours out His mercy upon us and gives us new life.
The paralytic in today’s Gospel is a wonderful example for the rest of us. He shows us the mighty power of God, the loving mercy of God, and the new life that we receive through the Lord, if we are open to His grace. He humbly lies before the Lord, recognizing Jesus’ healing power, and he makes himself available to The Lord’s work in Him.
But he doesn’t do it alone. The paralytic needed the help of his friends.
God is here for us today. He pours His grace upon us unceasingly, particularly through the sacraments. He offers us forgiveness of sins in a special way through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And when we yield to the grace of the Sacraments, we are given a new life in Christ. We are given strength to live a faith-filled life on Earth.
Yet, much like the paralytic, we do not live this life alone. We live in community, and we rely on our friends and family for support. What’s more, we too, are called to be support to others, to bring others to Christ, to show others Christ by the way we live.
That’s what it means to live as a disciple, as a Christian steward – to yield to the grace of God and, strengthened by grace to live a life of faith drawing ever nearer to Christ and helping others to do the same. It is an extraordinary calling. It is an exciting calling, and, as the paralytic in today’s gospel shows us, when we do so, we receive new life in Christ, a life that is richly rewarding, spiritually and otherwise.