This Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Father Joe Kim gave another excellent homily, relating the healing of the paralytic to the rich young man in the Gospel of St. Mark, 10:17-31. In his youth group, his students would continually ask how to practice their faith, their walk in life to the Promised Land. The articles Everyone is looking for you God, and Are you Samuel, Israel, or Benjamin discuss how we all strive to find our way to the Promised Land but get sidetracked. Father Kim’s discussion related to how we get lost.
In the rich young man, Jesus presents the last six of the Ten Commandments. The rich young man argues how he followed them from his youth. Jesus shows him how he failed the first four commandments. The rich young man forgot his rescue as a member of community. He has other gods, silver, and gold. When he discusses God, he confuses his name with his silver and his gold, so takes God’s Name in vain.
Father Kim continued, with the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26). Jesus uses spittle to make mud, and puts the mud into the blind man’s eyes. The man sees people as walking trees. The Hebrew word for tree and counselor, old stodgy person who looks and acts as if his humanity has left him, are the same. Jesus treats the blind man again, and he sees completely, the humanity in each person.
Father Kim related this to the healing of the paralytic. There were so many people gathered around Jesus, the four men bringing the paralytic were not able to reach him. Father Kim related how the people in the room are so like us, so wrapped up in our own suffering we cannot see the suffering of others.
An example coming to mind as Father Kim delivered his homily was the HHS mandate. We are so concerned about the mandate we are not able to see what is behind the mandate issue. This does not mean we should support paying for expenses we find abhorrent. We need to look what those wanting the mandate really desire. They want others to see their humanity. If we do not look at, and more important, address this desire of all people to be treated as if the image of God is within them, because it is, we are blind as those so concerned with their own healing that they are blind to the paralytic.
We are the blind man of Bethsaida, not seeing others humanity. The four boys who drop the paralytic through the roof are the healthy members of society, looking out for another member of their community. Like the paralytic, our blindness so paralyses us to the suffering of others, we do not know to ask Jesus for forgiveness and healing. Others are so full of fear and guilt, they are afraid to approach the Eucharist and ask for healing. Matthew 18:21-35, verse 31 tells us, “When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they… went to their master and reported the whole affair.” “His fellow servants” do as the four boys carrying the paralytic to Jesus. They do as Jesus asks of us. They address each others suffering.
We also need to report, and act on, “the whole affair.” We need to take action against how in 1968 the unemployment rate was 3.6% and the bottom 50% of the population earned 27% of all income. Now the unemployment rate is over 8% and the bottom 50% of the population earned around 19% of all income. People are suffering and the solution of the richest 1% of the population is to get rid of the labor unions. Presidents, governors, including Catholic governors have been playing with education budgets for so long, we now forget what a moral education budget would look like.
We have been so silent on the topic, and what has been going on in states like Wisconsin, the silence is deafening. We must address the issue of voter suppression in the South. Almost 49 million people live in food insecure homes. This includes 16 million children. It is not enough to fund CSA, as important as that is. We must make every effort, including government action, to make the need for CSA go away. We must address income inequality in America. If we want others to take us seriously, we must be like the four boys in our Gospel reading, and the crowd in the story of the unforgiving servant. We must drop our paralysis and act.