Friday, January 14, 2011

Do Not Forget The Works Of The Lord

Friday of the First Week In Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11
Let us be on our guard
while the promise
of entering into his rest remains,
that none of you seem to have failed.
For in fact we have received the Good News
just as our ancestors did.
But the word that they heard
did not profit them,
for they were not united in faith
with those who listened.
For we who believed enter into that rest,
just as he has said:
As I swore in my wrath,
They shall not enter into my rest,”

and yet his works were accomplished
at the foundation of the world.
For he has spoken somewhere
about the seventh day in this manner,
And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;
and again, in the previously mentioned place,
They shall not enter into my rest.
Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest,
so that no one may fall
after the same example of disobedience.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 78
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
What we have heard and know,
and what our fathers have declared to us,
we will declare to the generation to come
The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
That they too may rise and declare to their sons
that they should put their hope in God,
And not forget the deeds of God
but keep his commands.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And not be like their fathers,
a generation wayward and rebellious,
A generation that kept not its heart steadfast
nor its spirit faithful toward God.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that
there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic
carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat
on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there
asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way?
He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said,
“Why are you thinking such things
in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority
to forgive sins on earth” –
he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you,
rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying,
“We have never seen anything like this.”
Servant of God John the Gardener
(d. 1501)

John was born of poor parents in Portugal. Orphaned early in life, he spent some years begging from door to door. After finding work in Spain as a shepherd, he shared the little he earned with those even more needy than himself.

One day two Franciscans encountered him on a journey. Engaging him in conversation, they took a liking to the simple man and invited him to come and work at their friary in Salamanca. He readily accepted and was assigned to the task of assisting the brother with gardening duties. A short time later John himself entered the Franciscan Order and lived a life of prayer and meditation, fasting constantly, spending the nights in prayer, still helping the poor. Because of his work in the garden and the flowers he produced for the altar, he became known as "the gardener."

God favored John with the gift of prophecy and the ability to read hearts. Important persons, including princes, came to the humble, ever-obedient friar for advice. He was so loving towards all that he never wanted to take offense at anything. His advice was that to forgive offenses is an act of penance most pleasing to God.

He predicted the day of his own death: January 11, 1501.

A monastery garden was tended well to feed the community, not to make the grounds pretty. John saw to it that the refectory table was well supplied. But he also added a bit of beauty, growing flowers to enhance the chapel. God is surely pleased when we add a bit of beauty to the world—especially when we warm it with an act of forgiveness. For, as John insisted, forgiveness is the loveliest thing in God’s eyes.

Saint of the Day


Sarah in the tent said...

“I say to you,
rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

It's not obvious why a healing might show the authority to forgive sins. Is it perhaps because Our Lord simply speaks the man well again: 'I say to you', in the same way that God spoke the Universe into existence? .. and the fact that He does not invoke an outside God to effect the healing? Actually, I cannot think of any instance when Jesus invoked God to heal anyone. Perhaps this lack of an invocation is what struck the Jews - and even made them fearful that He might be in league with Beelzebub.

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

Sarah, not only is it "not obvious why a healing might show the authority to forgive sins", it is clear from the Scriptures, both in the Old and the New Testament, where prophets and disciples of Jesus had healing power, but only the priests of the Church Jesus founded had the power to forgive sins.

That the priest of the New Covenant has the power to forgive sins is grounded in his vocation as "alter Christus" (another Christ). It is not by any human power, but because he is the only-begotten Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity, that Jesus forgives sins. There is no need for him to invoke the Father, since he is one in nature with the Father. No doubt "this lack of an invocation" brought the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, to wonder what the source of Jesus' power was; they had a right to be concerned, since the devil has the power to work wonders. But there were a few -- Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who recognized Jesus as who He is.

Sarah in the tent said...

'it is clear from the Scriptures, both in the Old and the New Testament, where prophets and disciples of Jesus had healing power, but only the priests of the Church Jesus founded had the power to forgive sins.'

Thank you so much for that, Father. Stupidly, I hadn't registered it before. And this is such an important teaching ... Major implications for everyone!

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

Sarah, please don't put yourself down because you saw the similarity between healing of the body and the mind, on the one hand, and the forgiveness of sins, on the other; but did not think of the difference between the healing of the body and the healing of the soul in the Sacrament of Penance, which is ministered only by the priest. Thank you and God bless you for recognizing the difference when it was explained to you; that is the sign of a good student. After all, the wonders of God's love are infinite, and we will never understand them all. Let us thank and praise him for his goodness and mercy toward us. Amen.