January 14, 2022
by Tom Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 309

Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22a
Psalm 89:16-17, 18-19
Mark 2:1-12

Praying Ordinary Time
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Samuel had spent nearly his entire life in the service of his faith and his people. He was hailed by them as leader and as Judge. Late in his life the elders came to him and bluntly stated that Samuel was old, his sons were not trustworthy, and the people wanted to select a king. They wanted a new system. Samuel recited to the people a long list of demands that a king would want them to fulfill; some would cost them their freedom. They persisted. God said to Samuel, “it is not you they reject; they reject me as their king.” They clearly had free will that God allowed, even when it meant the rejection of God as their ultimate leader. “Appoint a king over us, as other nations have.” When Samuel gave way to the people's will, he chose the first king, Saul. Over 1000 years passed before Our Lord Jesus came to save us. Jesus came not as an earthly king, but rather, he said, “my kingdom is not of this earth.” Nevertheless , he was labeled “King of the Jews” and a rebel by the Romans, and charismatic, problematic, and blasphemous by the Jewish leaders. Their combined and persistent perceptions led to the crucifixion of Jesus. His death and resurrection saved us. He remains as our Lord and redeemer for all times. We have the true and everlasting king to guide us. Our hearts should finally be at peace.

Today the gospel reading deals with the reaction to miracles that Jesus performed in his “home town” of Capernaum on the north shore of the beautiful Sea of Galilee.

When Jesus returned home, a huge crowd gathered. Soon his small home was so crowded that no more could come in. A paralytic person, carried on a mat by friends, could not part the crowd. They carried the person to the rooftop where they actually “opened the roof” (probably twigs and rolled earth), and let the stretcher down into the crowd. Jesus, noting their faith and effort, said to the paralyzed person, “your sins are forgiven.” Some in the crowd were shocked. “Only God can forgive sins.” Jesus knew their minds, and answered their unspoken objections by healing the paralyzed person. “Rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” Jesus had answered the skeptics of his forgiveness of sins by performing a tangible, unmistakable miracle. If the subtlety of the forgiveness of sins did not sway the people, a person cured and walking home should have. All were astonished. Jesus had posed the question to the crowd, “which is easier,to say to the paralytic,'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk' ? “ We know that it is easier to believe what we see, but on closer examination, which miracle means the most for the good of our eternal souls?      

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