Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

(Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 5:17-26)

The young man wanted to see a priest. He said that he needed to talk about his life awhile and then go to confession. He was in no hurry, he said, because this time he wanted the grace of the sacrament to stick. Is the paralytic of such a mind when he is lowered in front of Jesus in today’s gospel?

The gospel relates how the Scribes and Pharisees feel indignation with Jesus’ pardoning of the paralytic, but it doesn’t say how the pardoned man hears Jesus. Perhaps he is disappointed because he was looking for a physical healing. After all, he is introduced as “a man who was paralyzed.” But perhaps that description just tells what people see when they look at him. It is possible that he came to see the holy one, Jesus, to seek his consolation for having lived wickedly. If so, hearing words of forgiveness may sooth him more than being healed.

To answer the question which Jesus poses to his critics honestly, we would have to say that it is easier to talk about forgiveness of sins than to spontaneously heal someone. For us, as for the Pharisees, it sometimes seems impossible that our guilt may be wiped away in an instant. But such a mighty deed becomes credible when we recognize Jesus for whom the gospels claim him to be - the Son of God who has come to us.