Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Mark 2:1-12

"Seeing their faith … "

Today's Gospel reading recounts a much-loved story, full of action and characters. Jesus was back in Capernaum, word had gone round and the crowd was dense in and around the house where he was preaching. The four wonderful men, carrying a paralytic on a stretcher, could not get near and so they took the remarkable step of making a hole in the roof of the house and lowering the paralytic in front of Jesus. The man did not speak, did not ask to be healed. What his friends had done, their hope and trust and sheer determination, was enough. "Seeing their faith" Jesus proclaimed the man's sins forgiven.

Among the crowd others were watching very carefully. The scribes had no interest in the sick man; they showed no sense of compassion for his needs, for they were more concerned with observing, measuring and judging matters of religious legalism and dogmatism. What they saw was not faith but blasphemy. Like the paralytic, they did not speak, but their silence did not spring from hope. They "thought to themselves", brooding silently and resentfully over a man who dared speak of God's forgiveness. This did not meet with their ideas of authority and propriety.

Law, dogma, authority, propriety - with all these things in their hearts, no wonder the scribes had no space left for care, love, compassion and forgiveness. They were locked in a religious mind of heartless formalism, in a closed mindset that still lingers to this day in some religious circles today. Such attitudes have made it impossible for some people toget near to Jesus, leaving them filled with hurt, guilt, anger, frustration or indifference. Maybe, like the paralytic, they do not ask to be healed. But, like him, they too need the patient, persistent and caring faith of friends.