Thursday, June 30 ~ Thirteenth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time
First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
Holy Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8 After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said: “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
Meditation: Question: What cripples the mind and heart and stifles the healing power of love? Answer: Sin and an unforgiving mind and heart! You should not be amazed at the fact that sin cripples us more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and it holds us in eternal bondage. There is only one solution to sin – the healing, cleansing power of Jesus’ forgiveness. Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment.
Prayer: O God, who consecrated that abundant first fruits of the Roman Church by the blood of the Martyrs, grant, we pray, that with firm courage we may together draw strength from so great a struggle and ever rejoice at the triumph of faithful love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: The crippled man in today’s Gospel had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body. It would be time well spent for each of us to look deeply and honestly at how we, too, may be crippled by our own sinfulness, and where we turn to for healing. It is all too easy to fall into the habit of letting society redefine what sin is and is not. Truth is truth, and sin is sin, as defined by God the Father (not civil or secular laws [e.g. abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.]), the timeless teachings of Jesus Christ (not talk show hosts, newspaper columnists, blogs, or Washington officials) and the one, true church – the Catholic Church – founded by Jesus Christ. Yes, we are sinners. And yes, all are welcome in the Catholic Church. But all are called to convert from sin, to submit ourselves to God, and to live our lives according to the will of God – not have God submit to us or to impose our will upon God. In this topsy-turvy world, there are many who place themselves and their wants, desires, lifestyle, et cetera, above God and, in doing so, recreate and relive the sin of Adam and Eve. It was our first parents who, tempted by Satan, determined what they thought was right and wrong and, in doing so, placed themselves before and above God. When we search for the truth, when we search for answers, for guidance and direction, for healing and reconciliation, for it is the Lord in his infinite love and mercy who is ever-ready to bring us healing of mind, body, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. A first step – primary action – is receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a priest, who has the power to absolve you of your sins and to get you back on the road to follow Jesus Christ.