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Wonder at God’s Word
Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
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 the paralytic, “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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my heart to hear your Word and help me to see your saving action all around me.
- The Word Fell Like Seed…: When Jesus returned to Capernaum, Scripture says that “he preached the word to them.” His central message was one of repentance. How he longed that his Word would fall upon fertile soil. He provoked faith where a piece of kindling was offered. He awakened consciences that dared to examine their lifestyle in the light of God’s commands. He excited hope in the possibility of promises fulfilled. How did that seed fall upon the soil of his listeners? How does his Word fall upon my spiritual ears? How does it speak to my conscience and desires?
- Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Jesus knows the deepest affliction–division between us and God, namely sin. He doesn’t beat around the bush with the paralytic man by curing him of a “superficial ailment” when the true ailment is sin. He must have been able to see the heart of this man, for God cannot forgive sin where the heart is closed. Reading between the lines, it seems that this is the story of a soul longing to return to the Father. Sincerity and a contrite heart open the path to reconciliation and healing of the rift between us and God. Jesus is the way to the Father.
- True Affliction in Hardness of Heart: The Pharisees are fixated on catching Jesus in any misdemeanor they can find. Their jealous attention blinds them to the action and power of God manifest in their presence. Hardness of heart blinds and deafens us as well. Jealousy, rancor, envy, etc., create a thick filter through which God’s light cannot penetrate. Our capacity to perceive objective reality is obscured and we create a completely different narrative about God. It changes our relationship with him. We are not able to relate to him as we ought, praising and glorifying him for his wondrous deeds, hidden or evident. Hopefully we are among the lot whose astonishment at Jesus’s deeds turned into rejoicing.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, may your word effect in me a sincere repentance. May your goodness and mercy move me, so that I may be reconciled to you and praise and glorify you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will examine my conscience in the light of faith to see if jealousy, envy, or anger blind my capacity to wonder at your mercies in me and in others.
For Further Reflection: Conquer Spiritual Blindness, https://catholicexchange.com/conquer-spiritual-blindness.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.