YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN YOU
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells the Jewish Christians, dispersed on account of their faith, not to seek to return to the city of rest, Jerusalem, and to Palestine, but rather to seek the rest and peace of living in the love of God; they are on the march to the promised land of heaven. They should not seek the “rest” of being installed securely in their home country. Likewise, we should not seek our “rest” and security in the things we have, the place we live, but be constant seekers of the rest of being at peace with God and people.
Miracles are called “signs” in the Bible. They are, like the cure of the paralytic, visible manifestations that something has happened inside the person. The paralytic can walk. He can stand up and move as a human being, as a person who is forgiven and can get up from the paralysis of sin. Could not we too give “signs” to the people around us by raising them above their miseries, that God is alive in us?
God, our Father, we are your people, at times paralyzed by our fears and our fascination with sin. Let your Son speak among us his mighty words of forgiveness and courage, to raise us above ourselves, above our cowardice and compromises, that we may go resolutely the way to you and to one another by the power of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Hebrews 4:1-5, 11
Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. For we who believed enter into that rest, just as he has said: As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest,” and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works; and again, in the previously mentioned place, They shall not enter into my rest. Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 78:3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8
R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
What we have heard and know, and what our fathers have declared to us, we will declare to the generation to come The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength. R.
That they too may rise and declare to their sons that they should put their hope in God, And not forget the deeds of God but keep his commands. R.
And not be like their fathers, a generation wayward and rebellious, A generation that kept not its heart steadfast nor its spirit faithful toward God. R.
Alleluia: Luke 7:16
Alleluia, alleluia. A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
“Let us strive to enter into that rest.” None of us really knows what the experience of eternity will be. Various images appear in the scriptures, and that is what they are—images, a manner of expression or speaking. Rest is one of those images. The Bible sees rest very positively, such as the rest associated with the Sabbath or as the way in which God concludes the work of creation.
Today’s reading states that we are certain of entering into that rest if we persevere in our faith.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is often seeking to get some rest. Yet as the crowds press upon him, he is always reluctant to turn away. Today’s Gospel is no exception. The people surround Jesus even to the point of blocking the door. Unable to reach him, the four men carrying the cot take the unusual step of digging through the roof to reach Jesus. Christ’s reaction might strike us as unusual.
The connection between sin and suffering was easily affirmed in first-century Palestine. Jesus simply states that the man’s sins are forgiven. Since the forgiveness of sin was seen as only God’s prerogative, his critics object. Yet Jesus does not back away. His power over sickness vindicates his authority over sin, his divinity. If he can deal with the one, he can deal with the other. The man is healed and sent on his way, to the amazement of the onlookers.
We all pray for the grace to enter into the Lord’s rest. We are confident of his great mercy that has repeatedly touched our lives.
We walk the glory road not because of our own abilities but because his goodness has repeatedly been felt.
– That the Church, aware of its own shortcomings and missed chances, may humbly offer forgiveness and new chances to all who err, and become in the world a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation, we pray:
– That our homes may be places of mutual understanding and reconciliation; that the young may learn from their parents and each other to forget injuries and hurts, we pray:
– For all Christian communities, that we may be less concerned about our rights and injured pride and learn Christ’s way of reconciliation and creating one another anew, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father, let your Son come here among us to take us by the hand and to order us to get back on our feet with joy and courage. Renew us, with his body and blood, that we too, may be to one another his uplifting word and helpful hands, that people may praise you, now and for ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
God, our Father, your Son was attentive to people, to their ills and their needs. May he live in us today and make us his voice that brings reconciliation and peace, his heart that loves without boundaries, his hands that build up a world of justice, dignity and service. We ask you all this, in the name of Jesus, the Lord. Amen!
Let us try with all that is in us to put back on their feet those paralyzed by their own fears, limitations and condemnations and to accompany them on their journey to God and to one another, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!