The delight Jesus received in being at the center of such a prophetic re-enactment of the very reason He was willing to leave heaven on our behalf tipped Him into flashing forth His true identity, come what may. Eventually, this boldness about Himself would lead to the Cross. For now, it sent five men joyously on their way home, praising God as they went.
Possible response: Lord Jesus, this story makes me want to love sinners enough to never tire of bringing them to You for healing. Please help me persevere.
First Reading (Read Isa 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25)
God, through the prophet, Isaiah, tells the rebellious people of Israel that someday He would do “something new.” In spite of their past indifference to Him (“You didn’t call upon Me, O Jacob; you grew weary of Me”) and their outright disobedience (“you burdened Me with your crimes”), God promised to “wipe out, for My own sake, your offenses.” What an astonishing promise! Even though God’s people would have to suffer great loss and even exile in a just punishment for their covenant infidelity, their hope of being cleansed, healed, and forgiven was secure: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not.”
Did Jesus have this promise from Isaiah in mind as He watched the light break through the hole in the roof and then a body get lowered down before Him? The friends of this man had not grown “weary” of seeking Jesus’ help. Their act of charity here, inspired by their faith in Him, surely covered whatever their pasts may have held. No wonder Jesus was moved, and no wonder He fulfilled God’s promise on the spot: “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Possible response: Heavenly Father, thank You for the “new thing” You have done in sending Your Son to die for my sins, blotting them out and enabling me to forget them.
Psalm (Read Ps 41:1-5, 13-14)
The psalmist here blesses both those who have “regard for the poor and lowly” (as did the paralytic’s friends), as well as God, Who cures the sick: “The LORD will help him on his sickbed, He will take away all his ailment when he is ill.” We find here words that, on our lips, confess our desire for the healing of our disease of sin: “Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.” We know, because we saw the pity Jesus showed the paralytic, that this prayer will always be answered.
Possible response: The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings. Read it again prayerfully to make it your own.
Second Reading (Read 2 Cor 1:18-22)
In these verses, we can see a kind of summary of what happened in our Gospel episode and, as a result, now continues to happen in the Church. St. Paul writes that, “however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in [Jesus]; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through Him to God for glory.” God had promised to do “something new” through Isaiah. When Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sin, He fulfilled that promise. The people who saw it all “glorified God” as a result, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” Something new!
St. Paul also refers to the work he and his co-workers had done in proclaiming the Gospel to the Corinthians: “The One who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; He has also put His seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.” Not only did Jesus bring the healing of sin into the world, He commissioned others to carry on that work. The “seal” of the Holy Spirit in successors to the apostles (bishops and priests) means that the extraordinary declaration Jesus made to the paralytic—“Child, your sins are forgiven”—has been present in every age of the Church since then and will continue to the end.