Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel from Mark 2: 1-12 is a wonderful story about intercession. It concerns a paralyzed man whose four friends take him to see Jesus and be healed. The house in which Jesus is teaching is so packed with people that the four men hoist their friend on his stretcher up to the roof, take off part of the roof, and lower him down right in front of Jesus. The Gospel says that when Jesus “saw their faith” he forgave the sins of the paralyzed man and then healed him. It’s not clear that the paralyzed man had any faith, but his friends who persevered in spite of obstacles definitely did. In fact, according to the Gospel of Luke, it seems the paralyzed man did not have faith; it was the faith of his friends that Jesus saw. Luke’s version of the story (5: 20) goes like this: “When he saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’” The implication is that Jesus saw the faith of the four friends and then turned to the paralyzed man, saying “As for you….”

There is a great lesson here for us. As Apostles of Prayer we join the Holy Father in praying together for many desperate people and situations. This month those include people with no access to water or the other necessities of life, and health care workers in the poorest parts of the world. Such global intentions for hopeless people in terrible situations may seem impossible. We, like the four friends of the paralyzed man, are called to persevere. The Lord sees our faith and will act.

Moreover, many people for whom we pray may be paralyzed not only physically but spiritually. They may not know the Lord or may have given up. Just like the paralyzed man in the Gospel, they may have no faith. But the Lord sees our prayers for them. And so we persevere in prayer, knowing that we are not helpless, for we have opened ourselves up to the Lord’s help, and no situation is hopeless, for the Lord, who will not act without human cooperation, is simply waiting for our faith and our prayers.

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