MONDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK OF ADVENT GOSPEL, REFLECTION AND COMMENTARY. THE CURING OF THE PARALYTIC (Lk 5:17–26)
One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”
Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, “Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”— he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”
COMMENTARY FROM THE NAVARRE BIBLE, GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (with permission)
- 17 A little earlier, beside the lake, Jesus addressed his teaching to crowds (vv. 1 ff). Here his audience includes some of the most educated of Jews. Christ desired not only to teach but also to cure everyone — spiritually and, sometimes, physically, as he will soon do in the case of the paralytic.
- The evangelist’s observation at the end of this verse reminds us that our Lord is ever-ready to use his omnipotence for our good: “I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil’, God declared through the prophet Jeremiah (29:11).
- The liturgy applies these words to Jesus, for in him we are clearly shown that God does love us in this way. He did not come to condemn us, to accuse us of meanness and smallness. He came to save us, pardon us, excuse us, bring us peace and joy” (J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 165).
- On this occasion also Jesus wanted to benefit all his listeners, even though some of them would not receive this divine gift because they were not well-disposed.
- 19-20 Our Lord is touched when he sees these friends of the paralytic putting their faith into practice: they had gone up onto the roof, taken off some of the tiles and lowered the bed down in front of Jesus. Friendship and faith combine in obtaining a miraculous cure. The paralytic himself had a like faith: he let himself be carried around, brought up on the roof and so forth. Seeing such solid faith Jesus gives them even more than they expect: he cures the man’s body and, what is much more, cures his soul. Perhaps he does this, as St Bede suggests (cf. In Lucae Evangeliurn expositio, in loc.), to show two things: that the illness was a form of punishment for his sins and therefore the paralytic could only get up once these sins had been forgiven; and that others’ faith and prayer can move God to work miracles.
- In some way, the paralytic symbolizes everyone whose sins prevent him from reaching God.
- For example, St Ambrose says: “How great is the Lord who on account of the merits of some pardons others, and while praising the former absolves the latter! …Therefore, let you, who judge, learn to pardon; you who are ill, to beg for forgiveness. And if the gravity of your sins cause you to doubt about the possibility of being forgiven, have recourse to intercessors, have recourse to the Church, who will pray for you, and the Lord will grant you forgiveness, out of love for her, though he might refuse you” (St Ambrose, Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.).
- Apostolic work should be motivated by desire to help people find Jesus Christ. Among other things it calls for daring — as we see in the friends of the paralytic; and it also needs the intercession of the saints, whose help we seek because we feel God will pay more attention to them than to us sinners.
- 24 Our Lord is going to perform a public miracle to prove that he is endowed with invisible, spiritual power.
- Christ, the only Son of the Father, has power to forgive sins because he is God, and he uses this power on our behalf as our Mediator and Redeemer (Lk 22:20; Jn 20:17-18, 28; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Col 2:13-14; Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 1:9; Is 5 3:4-5). Jesus used this power personally when he was on earth and after ascending into heaven he still uses it, through the Apostles and their successors.
- A sinner is like a paralytic in God’s presence. The Lord is going to free him of his paralysis, forgiving him his sins and enabling him to walk by giving him grace once more. In the Sacrament of Penance, if Jesus Christ “sees us cold, unwilling, rigid perhaps with the stiffness of a dying interior life, his tears will be our life: ‘I say to you, my friend, arise and walk,’ (cf. Jn 11:43; Lk 5:24), leave that narrow life which is no life at all” (J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by,193).
Topic: WHO IS YOUR TRUE FRIEND?
In today’s gospel (Luke 5:17-26), the friends of a paralyzed man brought him to Jesus to be healed but the crowd who wanted to listen, witness and, perhaps, be healed by Jesus was too thick for them to pass through. The man, himself, may not have had the strength to express his faith in Jesus and his healing power but his friends did as they tried to find a way to help get him to Jesus. They did. In your own life, who are your true friends?
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