When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.”
And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In both our Gospel and today’s first reading (1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22a), we see examples of people who go to extraordinary levels to get closer to God and to Jesus. The Gospel story is the well known one where friends of the paralytic man lower him to Jesus through a hole in the roof. How often our response to prayers lack the depth of Samuel, or the men who lifted the paralyzed man down to Jesus? We want answers, and we want them now!
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot. St. Anthony told his visitors that perseverance meant waking up each day with the same zeal as the first day. Now that Christmas and New Year’s Day have passed and we are again in “ordinary time”, let us pause and reflect how we practice the same level of prayer, gratitude, and service that we professed during the Christmas season.
—Jim Bozik is a permanent deacon at St. Peter Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC, the Jesuit parish in the Diocese of Charlotte.
O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things.
—Collect prayer from today’s MassPlease share the Good Word with your friends!