Healing, Loyalty, Forgiveness

I have a confession to make.

There are many times that I look at the Sunday readings, and I am at somewhat of a loss. What is there new to say?

And frankly, this story of Jesus and the paralytic falls into that category for me. More discussion on the age-old discussion–easier to forgive sins or heal?

So I went to the a site that I visit frequently, often just to read the thoughts of others. And I found the most wonderful reflection on this beautiful text (Mk 2: 1-12).

And I was sure that I could never write anything new or fresh given how wonderfully John Pilch had written on this extraordinary passage.

And then I went in search of an appropriate picture, and I found this one, and suddenly it was if some synchronicity had struck. It all came together in this wonderful realization that this was the perfect passage to lead us into Lent.

For we do begin that journey in a few short days. And this passage is really all about that journey.

As Mr. Pilch pointed out, first Jesus responded to the loyalty (which we call faith) in the friends of the stricken man and in their combined persistence to seek healing in the face the scribes who sat about skeptical of this man.

In return for that loyalty to him, Jesus heals–not the physical infirmity, but the soul infirmity. He forgives.

Finally, he cures. The paralysis is removed. And then, he sends the man back to his community.

We are poised to begin our journey with Christ. The road ahead is unclear but it calls us deeply, and strongly. We respond, not with some prescient knowledge of the future, but in faith, or loyalty to this Jesus whom we have known for a long or a short time. We have come to trust him, and know that he will not lead us astray.

Still, we do not KNOW. After all, it is faith we espouse. When we are loyal to friends, we are such not because we are sure of every request made by our friend, but because we trust them to never ask of us anything impossible or wrong.

We know we need healing. We have sinned, both by deliberate action and thought, but unknowingly, and often with the best of intentions. We are human, and it is not possible to avoid error in our thinking or acting, no matter how careful we are. And so we instinctively know that we are in need of Jesus’ fair hand upon our brow, comforting and soothing away our pain and sadness at our failures.

In some sense we are cured as well. Not perhaps of physical disease or illness, but of those distractions of life that pull on us constantly to turn away from ourselves and our spiritual being in pursuit of the mundane. Surely there is much that must be attended, mortgages need paying, food needs preparing, homes need cleaning. But we of course are prone to much more that is unnecessary. Too much television, Internet, frivolous wasting of time in arguing about events and things that will be there tomorrow.

Jesus helps us to see that we need this time desperately, because it is this time that prepares us to take on all the burdens of life for the rest of the year. Not just take them on, but in a way that does our faith proud, that sets us apart as a people who “do it differently” without hurting and cheating and indifference. Especially the indifference.

Jesus calls us to stop and remember that every step we take, every action has consequences to a global community. The things we buy and consume were made by others, in often far off places. Their lives may be very different from ours, and often much more limited and pain filled.

The paralytic is ordered to return to his community. We are to return to ours as well. We have been healed, we have been found faithful, we have been cured. We are called to live that life, within those parameters.

The journey is about to begin.

Amen.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 18:22:20

    Sherry, what a lovely reflection in preparation for Lent–the whole notion of returning to community restored… Wow.

    I confess to being somewhat paralyzed myself this weekend, as our lectionary sent us back up the Mount of Transfiguration and I stared at it for two days, wondering what to do with it. I am just now getting it posted… (sigh)

    Yet, once again, disparities in text seem to lead us both in the same direction, as I came away from the Transfiguration story reminded that what the disciples see does, in many ways, hobble them. They leave the experience confused and unsure, and clarity will not come until they complete the trek to Calvary and the empty grave. And that’s when they become useful to the community they serve.

    I am firmly convinced Lent is a healing time–that we stumble its passage and find our strength and straightening.

    Many blessings, dearest friend, as we set out on this sacred journey together!

    Tim

    Reply

  2. Sherry
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 09:27:06

    I was clueless until I read that article. Then it just all seemed to open up. Bless TextWeek and their astounding resources. I figured that perhaps actual life had intervened and prevented you from posting as usual. I shall get over and enjoy your post.

    I am looking forward to Lent once again as my time to slow down, sit down, and spend more time in contemplative prayer. Blessings Tim as we enter into the sacred time.

    Reply

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