7TH SUNDAY ORDINARY – B
Mark 2: 1-12
Imagine the scene in the gospel this Sunday: Jesus preaching in front of the house of Simon Peter, surrounded by a crowd of thousands; suddenly a paralytic on a stretcher is being lowered from the roof by four men.... It looks like a very dramatic scene in an indie film, isn’t it? But there is more than just the drama that we have just imagined.
Le us look at the faith and ingenuity of the four men to find ways in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation. Because of a desperate need, their faith inspired them to be creative enough to be noticed by Jesus. They, together with the paralytic, did not even say a word, but the action of their faith spoke a thousand words. Here we see the power of intercession and the power of communal faith. Although our faith is our personal response to the revelation of God in our life, but we have to remember that this faith is always connected with the faith of the community which we call the Church. That is why it is not enough to practice faith on our own but to celebrate it together with the Church in rituals that manifest that faith. This is the reason why we have the seven sacraments which are celebrations of our communal faith. It is when we gather as People of God when we become like the four men in the gospel today, we carry our brothers and sisters together and bring them to Jesus for healing. We see this in the concrete when we pray for each other during the Eucharist or the mass. There is no prayer more powerful than when it is said and offered during the Eucharist. Whenever I want to pray for a friend, I say those prayers in the Eucharist, that is why I am fond of telling my friends “See you in the Eucharist.”
Now let us go back to the scene in the gospel: Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven.” Why would Jesus first forgive his sins and not cure the paralysis instead? We have to understand that during that time, sickness was always connected with sin; any sick man was considered a sinner. In our present understanding, when somebody is sick, his sickness is not just limited to physical ailments but rather to the whole person. Since we are composed of body and soul, when the soul is sick because of sin, it is manifested in physical illness (science calls it psychosomatic) although we may say that not all sicknesses are because of sin. Many of our saints died because of different illnesses. Considering this, we still believe that when we are sick, we need healing, physical and spiritual. That is why, we have the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick: “Are there sick among you? Call for the priests of the church and the prayer of the priests will heal the sick” (James 5:14). Now we understand why Jesus forgave first his sins to effect interior healing before he cured the physical paralysis. Jesus understood human nature and so after forgiving the sick of the paralytic, He healed him physically: “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk.”
When we are physically sick, we are so engrossed with our bodily discomfort and pain which is natural and oftentimes, we always pray to get healed of these physical illnesses. Hardly we pray for the healing of our interior wounds. Another sacrament that does this wonder is the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession.
When we get sick and healed, like the man we carry in ourselves our own stretchers so that others will see the wonders of God.