Heb 4:1-5,11; Ps 78:3,4,6-8; Mk 2:1-12
How can we forget the works of the LORD? From the earliest days of family life, through the first days of our religious formation programs, to this moment of Liturgy we constantly and continually hear about the glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength. We have been rescued from slavery and brought home from exile. Sin is no longer the most powerful influence in our lives. Sin is a powerful influence and temptation still abounds, but it is not the most important influence, nor is it overwhelming. We rise up from our sin and escape from our vice to declare the glorious deeds of the LORD. We put our hope in God, and we summon our descendants to put their hope in God. Not only does the LORD rescue us from our faults and failures, the LORD provides for us boundaries. We have been given the Ten Commandments. We have been given the guidance of the wisdom of the Scriptures and the Church. We are well aware that obedience always produces a blessing. The Responsorial Psalm reminds us how easily it is for us to be like our fathers, a generation wayward and rebellious. It is all too easy for us to lose heart and not be steadfast in spirit. We all too readily abandon our faithfulness toward God. In the first reading we are reminded of the LORD’s wrath in which he forbids us from entering into his rest. In the gospel reading we are given great hope in the ministry and miracles of The Christ, who alone can forgive us our sins. Such compassion is still near to us in the Body of Christ and in the sacrament of reconciliation.
Indeed we must be on guard because the promise of entering into his rest remains. Indeed we have received the Good News, the salvation made know to us in Christ and through his Body the Church. This promise of God in Christ is for all those united in faith who listen to his word. When we listen to the Word of Life, we know that we can join the Lord in His Rest only after we have lived in obedience to his Word. The perfect rest of contemplation, in which the LORD does in our souls, in the depths, that which only He can do: heal, renew, refresh. Once we have done all that we can do in terms of prayer and discipline, the LORD himself does what we cannot do because we are too close to ourselves. Indeed, the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit enables us to grow completely detached from and disordered longing for things of this world or of the world of the Spirit. Now we can rest in complete detachment from anyone or anything so that we can be totally attached to the LORD alone. Indeed, this is the rest that we are summoned to share in Christ with the Father by the Spirit, now and always and ever and forever.
Those who had all the power during the time of the Lord’s public ministry were convinced that only God can forgive sins. For the Lord Jesus to say to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven,” was nothing less than blasphemy. Indeed, it would have been blasphemy for any man to make such a claim, but the Lord Jesus is the long awaited King of Israel, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father. In Christ our King the full authority of God the Father is manifest and active among the People of God. The full power and compassion of the Father is revealed in the ministry of Christ to the human race, paralyzed by sin. In our own day there are powerful people who claim that there is no sin, so we don’t need anyone to forgive us. They speculate that as long as our intention is pure, whatever we decide to do cannot be wrong. Such thinking makes everyone a king. Such relativism dismisses our struggle with guilt and offense as true madness and a complete waste of time. Things seem to be reversed, yet still the same. Just like the people of Samuel’s day we want a leader who is accessible to our influence, someone just like us who will understand and submit to our prejudices and limitations. Not like our True King who calls us to go beyond our comfort zones and pour ourselves out in loving service—even to the point of self-sacrifice, in imitation of Christ our only true king. Just like the people of Jesus’ day we want a leader who always makes us feel good by affirming our every effort and good intention. Not like our True King who reveals the universal boundaries between good and evil—commanding us what to do and what not to do for our good and for His glory. Indeed, we still need to be forgiven; we still need a Savior.