Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 8:4-7.10-22a; Mark 2:1-12)
Jesus’ enigmatic question, “Which is easier…?” may be applied to today’s first reading as well as the gospel. Is it easier for God to create a conquering nation or a holy people? Most will respond unreflectively, “a conquering nation,” but the simple truth is that it is much harder to make a people holy. Yet this is precisely Jesus’ purpose.
Jesus builds on already present faith. The reading says, “Jesus saw their faith.” It may be referring to the faith of all present, not just to that of the paralytic’s porters. That is, Jesus may be responding to the faith of all who are coming to believe in him as God’s “favored one.” Through Jesus’ teaching they begin to see that a nation’s true greatness consists not in having a victorious army but in being a loving people. The people’s care will extend especially to those most in need – paralytics and the poor.
Pope Francis is making every effort to extend this concept of greatness through compassion. He is sometimes criticized for insufficient concern about orthodoxy. By all means preserving the apostolic faith is one of the prime responsibilities of the Bishop of Rome. For this reason Francis continually asks prayers that he does not fail in his duties. It might be added, however, that the pope is above all the head of apostles. His primary task is to carry out Jesus’ mission of forming a holy people who will imitate God’s love for all.