One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

July 05, 2006

For Thursday of the Thirteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 9:1-8

When a few persons carried their paralyzed friend up to Christ, it was obvious they expected Christ to heal the man.
What a surprise for them to hear the Lord say, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
These unasked and unexpected words of forgiveness seemed to have no effect on the man’s paralytic condition.
He remained lying on his bed.
None of the friends of the paralyzed man had spoken.
No one had said to Christ, “Sir, we brought our friend hoping you would heal him of his paralysis.”
No one but Christ actually spoke out in the Gospel here— not the paralyzed man’s friends, not the paralyzed man himself, not the scribes or lawyers.
Christ alone spoke here.
However the Lord did more than speak.
He also read the actions, the hearts and the minds of all who were present.
When he saw the people carrying their paralyzed friend to him, the Lord read their hearts, and, as the Gospel tells us, he saw THEIR faith.
He also looked into the soul of the friend they were carrying, and saw in him the spiritual paralysis of sin.
Then, because he saw the FAITH of that man’s FRIENDS, he said to the paralyzed man, “Take heart, my son; YOUR SINS are forgiven.”
Then Christ read the hearts of the scribes who were thinking to themselves, “God alone can forgive sins— this man is blaspheming.”
The Lord read those silent thoughts as well, and immediately spoke out to answer them.
Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier
to say,
“Your sins are forgiven,”
or to say,
“Rise and walk”?

For man, NEITHER of these is easy to say.
For God BOTH of these are entirely possible.
Your sins are forgiven.
Now,
rise and walk!

The Lord had already said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.”
He forgave him because of the FAITH of that man’s FRIENDS.
Then, because of the UNBELIEF of the SCRIBES, the Lord said to the paralyzed man, “Rise— get on your feet— pick up your bed and go home.”
The man then rose, no longer paralyzed, and went home.
The whole event is a paradox.
The simple faith of the paralyzed man’s friends achieved something they were not expecting.
The unbelief of the scribes also occasioned something they were not expecting.
And the paralyzed man who could not do or say anything was the beneficiary of both the FAITH of others as well as the UNBELIEF of others.
And all of this took place while no one said a word, except Christ who read the hearts of all of them.
His first concern was not for the man’s bodily health, but for the forgiveness of his sins.
Do we keep in mind that— no matter what else you and I may need— Christ’s first concern is our sins?
The greatest paradox in the Gospel today is Christ himself: a seemingly mere man who has authority and power of God both to heal bodies and forgive sins on earth.
When the crowds today see all this, they are startled, and they give glory to God, whose authority and power they see in Christ.
WE ALSO should be “startled”, for we stand before the same Christ in his Liturgy, in his Gospel and in his Eucharist.
Here he is— NOW— with authority and power to heal the body, raise the dead, forgive sins and bring salvation.
We, too, with the crowd in the Gospel, should glorify the Father whose authority and power we meet in Christ.
If we approach him now with faith— as did the friends of the paralytic today— if we approach Christ with faith today in this Eucharist, who knows but that our faith may win from Christ today the forgiveness of sins for our friends, for the world and for ourselves?
Who knows but that the sick and the suffering will benefit TODAY because we are approaching Christ with faith TODAY?
Who among us has authority to measure or limit what Christ can do in answer to our own faith— if indeed we approach him with faith today?
As we approach Christ in his Eucharist today, it is enough for us to have faith, for he has authority and power to go beyond all our expectations.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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