February 22: Seven Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Is 43: 18-19, 21-22, 24-25; 2 Cor. 1:18-22; Mk 2:1-12
The readings of this Sunday focus attention on God’s healing power and forgiveness in Christ. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah presents a vision of the Lord doing something new. “In the desert I make a way, in wasteland, rivers”. This vision obviously refers to a new exodus from the Babylonian captivity to the homeland. The prophecy is an indication of God’s power to forgive, even though the chosen people have been unfaithful. God continually blots out everything and forgets their sins. There is a link between this vision and the responsorial psalm that features the cry of a suffering person in need of healing. Here the psalmist tells us that the Lord will restore the suffering to health. The inherent relationship between sin and suffering cannot be ignored, yet in the second reading Paul assures us of God’s commitment to heal and pardon us in Christ. This faithfulness of God must be matched by our own complete permanent yes to God after the example of Christ.
The mystery of God’s healing and forgiveness in Christ is clearly proclaimed in the Gospel in the context of a moving drama of a miraculous healing. Jesus has just returned to Capernaum, and “it became known that he was at home. Many people gathered together so that there was no longer any room for them, not even around the door”. Mark leads us into one of the most moving miracles - the healing of a paralyzed person. The paralytic who is at the centre of the story never says a word. We know nothing about him except two important facts. Jesus healed him physically and healed him spiritually. After recognizing the faith in those bringing the sick person on a stretcher through the roof, Jesus first deals with the sick person’s inner spiritual sickness. “Child, your sins are forgiven”, and as the people in the room were wondering about his claim to forgive sins, Jesus heals the paralytic, who to the amazement of everybody takes up his stretcher and walks away. Often times in many cultures physical illness is intertwined with the spiritual and thus the words of Jesus this Sunday “your sins are forgiven” touch us deeply and often times lead the sick to physical healing. We might not be paralysed physically but we are paralysed by our sins. Sin can so overpower us that we feel incapable of any movement towards being healed. In such a condition, we argue with ourselves: “I certainly need to go to confession, but how?” I have destroyed my marriage; destroyed my family and ashamed myself and the family. I want forgiveness, but I don’t have the courage to get up. I probably will sin again because I cannot control temptations. When one gets to that stage, one is obviously paralyzed by sin and needs healing just like the man in the Gospel. Our paralysis is less visible but just as real and it certainly turns us away from God. What message do we take home? 1) The readings this Sunday focus our attention on God’s healing power and forgiveness in Christ; 2) The miracle of healing the paralyzed person is much more a pointer to our own spiritual paralysis caused by sin; 3) Therefore we too are in need of healing of our spiritual paralysis by Jesus who is always ready to heal. We only have to turn to him in faith.
©2009 John M. Mbinda