Friday, February 17, 2012

Seven Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

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

Exiled by spiritual paralysis and liberated by God’s healing power and forgiveness. Those phrases help to capture the central message of this Sunday. The readings focus attention on how sin leads to our own exile, and how God’s healing power and forgiveness in Christ restores us back through healing and forgiveness. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah presents a vision of the Lord preparing to lead his people through 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 removes their sins and forgets them. There is a link between this vision and the responsorial psalm that features the cry of a suffering person in need of healing. In Psalm 41, we find both a prayer of the repentant sinner and great hope in the Lord who 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 to 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 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. The words of Jesus this Sunday “your sins are forgiven” touch us deeply. Often times spiritual healing leads to physical healing. We might not be paralysed physically but we suffer from our own self-exile and paralysis due to sin. Sin can be so overpowering that we feel incapable of any movement towards healing. We would like to rise and straighten our lives, but something holds us back. 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 my 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. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings this Sunday proclaim the joyful news of 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) Like the paralyzed man, we too are in need of being healed of our spiritual paralysis by Jesus, who is always ready to heal and to restore us from our own exile into freedom. I am Msgr. John Mbinda, St. John Apostle and Evangelist, Mililani, Hawaii. God bless you.

©2012 John S. Mbinda

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