This Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we will read the story of the paralytic, the culmination of a series of healings starting with the cure of the demoniac, Mark 1:21-28. As discussed in the article, “Who is smarter, us or the unclean spirits? You decide,” the main point of the story is that the unclean spirits know who Jesus is, while many a church/synagogue attendee does not.
Mark 1 also presents us with St. Peter’s mother-in-law. Once healed, she serves. She serves Jesus and those with him, Christian community. As the article, “Everyone is looking for you, God,” points out, everyone is looking for God. Everyone is looking for salvation, in Hebrew, Joshua/Jesus. Some have gotten off the beaten path looking to the right or to the left, and some may be on the wrong road entirely, but we are all looking for God and salvation.
The article, “Changing the feral cat within our communities, healing the leper and paralytic,” adds to the conversation by pointing out that doctors do not heal people as they change their environment and then the natural process of things allows them to change themselves. The culmination of this series of healings is the healing of the paralytic.
The article, “Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” discusses the healing of the paralytic. Many have tried to ascertain just what the sin of the paralytic was. St. Mark gives no details and that just may be the point. As we try reading into the story to find the fault, we project ourselves into the story and say far more about ourselves then about the paralytic. The main point is that even the demons know God better than the people in the crowds, the church/synagogue going people do. The article, “Bishop Straling’s homily on the statue with no hands, the paralytic, and the blind man,” points out, in Semitic literature those who suffer do not necessarily have any fault, at least no more than the rest of us.
The paralytic may be the victim of child abuse; accusing him of sin/failure will only compound the paralysis. What Jesus/salvation wants from us is curing the paralysis, not finding fault. Jesus asks, “What is easier to say?” If we say, “Pick up your mat and go home,” what does the child do when he gets there? Afraid to act, he becomes paralyzed again. We must then go find him and give more directions. That is more syllables and more effort. If we say, “Your sin/guilt is forgiven, gratitude drives him on, giving him the direction he needs.
Something more is required for the paralyzed child to walk again. He must not only believe his faults are forgiven and his guilt removed. He must believe that the effort he expended in the past will be fruitful now. Jesus is going on to the next town to preach the Gospel. Mark 1:35-39 It is for us, the people in the community to become as smart as the unclean spirits and help those paralyzed in our communities to again start on the way to the promised land.
The first reading for this Sunday reads, “Thus says the Personal Name: Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” We must show the paralytics of our society, those who have given up, this new way, this something new. As we walk through our lives to the Promised Land, we must show God’s love to each other, picking each other up when we fall, helping those who lag behind to catch up and keep up. There is no room for tough love here, only compassion and Christian love. Are we prepared to pick up and start walking to the Promised Land again?