“Everyone is looking for you,” our Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary time informs us. Everyone is looking for God incarnate, including Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Tao, Buddhists, Hindi, animists and even atheists. All people are trying to get to the cradle to the grave in one piece. The article, “Are you Samuel, Israel, or Benjamin” relates, some turned to the left, or the right side of the road.
St Augustine states in his City of God, Chapter 11, “We say of peace, as of eternal life, it is the end of our good. The Psalmist says of the city of God, the subject of this work, Praise the Personal Name, Jerusalem/ City of Peace; praise your God, Zion… He makes your borders peace/Shalom/Salem.”
In the next chapter, “There is no man who does not wish to be joyful, who does not wish to have peace. They who make war desire… to attain to peace with glory. What else is victory than the conquest of those who resist? This completed; there is peace. It is with the desire for peace that people wage war… Every man seeks peace by waging war… Those interrupting the peace… only wish it changed into a peace that suits them better.”
“Shalom/peace,” comes from a word meaning “complete.” We can only be complete when we have our salvation/Joshua/Jesus. This is eternal life, when we are complete. Some just deviate to the right or to the left in a mistaken bid to get there. They do so in pursuit of their own way, and not God’s way. Jesus really is right. All seek him, salvation/Joshua.
The rest of the Gospel is presenting a better way to peace. “Bishop Straling’s on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” discusses that way. It begins and ends with us, the hands of Jesus bringing Jesus/salvation incarnate into this world, through the Eucharist, and with our actions. The story of the healing of the paralytic presents two ways, the way of the grammarians, “Why does this man speak that way?” There is the way of those who think themselves first, and the way of those who put God first.
Our Psalm for this Sunday ends, “The Personal Name upholds the humble; He brings the Russia the ground.” As “Father Francisco’s homily for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time” relates, “Russia” refers to an attitude, not a nation. It refers to those who are more equal than others. God reminds us, “All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The grammarians think, the paralytic must have done something to deserve his plight. The grammarians did not do such things. They are better than the paralytic is. With their words, they stifle initiative and continue the paralysis. That is Russia. That is evil.
The other way is Jesus’ way, the way less traveled, the way of empowerment. This way asks, “What is easier to say…” Once the child feels forgiveness, he feels empowered to walk. Still, he starts behind the others. He was paralyzed while the other kids stayed in school and learned their craft. To be empowered to catch up, he must believe others will help him. Jesus has gone to the nearby villages that he may preach there also. That leaves us as his hands in this village/our village. “I forgive you, now go forgive others, and help them to catch up. Now, go and do likewise, following God’s way and not our own ways.”