Life then Limb – Friday, 1st Week in Ordinary time – Mark 2:1-12

Life then Limb – Friday, 1st Week in Ordinary time – Mark 2:1-12

Please also read which also takes in a studied view of the text.

The narrative of Peter’s mother-in-law ended with the whole city gathering at the door of their house (Mark 1:33). In today’s Gospel, Jesus has returned to Capernaum, returning to his de-facto home. Jesus had made Simons home his headquarters in Galilee. Once again, everyone has gathered in front of the door of Simon’s house (2:2) and Jesus we are told, was speaking the word to them

It is true that the world is attracted by miracles and the spectacular but miracles were the byproduct of Jesus’ principle ministry. We are told in today’s narrative that the crowd had gathered at his home where he was ‘speaking THE WORD to them.’ Earlier in Mark 1:39 we are told, ‘ he went throughout Galilee proclaiming THE MESSAGE in the synagogue.’ And in !:38 in response to the phenomenon he has become as a healer Jesus says to Peter, “Let us go to the neighbouring towns so that I may proclaim THE MESSAGE.”

While this miracle narrative may have many reflections (and I have reflected on them in the article mentioned above with the link) I want to focus on the principle ministry of Jesus and that is proclaiming the word or message. We are told in Mark’s Gospel that Jesu taught with authority unlike the scribes (1:22) and it is this teaching ministry of Jesus that should not be overshadowed by a wicked generation that seeks a sign (Matthew 12:39 and 16:4).

When you look at the narrative of the paralytic lowered from the roof by four men, Jesus was in the midst of a teaching. He was doing what he came to do, to preach the word. The contents of that teaching are not mentioned by St Mark but what follows next is not merely a miracle but a continuation of Jesus message and proclamation.

The Gospel does not mention that the four men asked for a healing for the paralytic. Their actions, dramatic as they were, spoke of their desperation for one. Jesus sees the faith of the four men and the soul of the paralytic. His life was in need of a spiritual healing before his limbs could be restored. Perhaps for a few minutes the four men’s heart sank when Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” They were expecting their friend to be told to walk. Jesus first pronounced a healing of the soul before he healed the body. This is principle to the message of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark; Jesus came to defeat the evil one who has taken over our souls.

Take a look at the response of Jesus to the scribes who question the words of Jesus in their heart. Jesus says, “which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or rise take up your mat and walk?” While our Lord could do both as he so strongly demonstrated, his principle purpose was to draw our attention to the healing of our souls.

This is a lovely miracle narrative but digging deeper, we have to acknowledge that the mission of Jesus was to proclaim the good news; that he came to take away our sins and free us from the power of Satan. While we may truly need a physical ailment for the sufferings we or our loved ones may face, our principal duty is to first bring ourselves or lead our loved ones to be healed in our souls.

Take a look at the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Mercifully it is not called extreme unction (meaning last words) but rather today it is rightly called the anointing of the sick. Look at the sacrament carefully. Before we pray for a healing of the body, the sacrament dwells deeply on the healing of the soul and includes the penitential right with the opportunity to receive another sacrament, another moment of grace, by making our confession. It is our life that needs healing first, then our limbs.

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