17.01.2020 — Forgiveness as a sign of atonement

Posted under Reflections on January 16th, 2020 by

Week 1 of Ordinary Time, Friday – 17th January 2020 — Gospel: Mark 2:1-12

Forgiveness as a sign of atonement

The setting of the story in Capernaum neither reveals the name of the paralytic nor his friends. Thus the emphasis remains on Jesus and his power to restoration. Pairing the healing of the paralyzed man with the forgiveness of sins and a stress on faith connects it to more of the atonement than just its power to strengthen the fallen man. Many in this period associated sickness or other ailments, such as blindness, with sin (Jn 9,2). In this case removing the cause of a disease would also remove its symptoms. But Jesus’ opponents did not focus on Jesus’ extension of forgiveness as a medically therapeutic technique. Instead they criticized him for taking a prerogative that solely belongs to God. In this situation, while curing paralysis with a word seemed impossible, the actuality of forgiveness of man’s sins affirmed that Jesus takes upon himself those sins, suffer for them, and then die for them.

16.01.2020 — Beyond human perception

Posted under Reflections on January 15th, 2020 by

Week 1 of Ordinary Time, Thursday – 16th January 2020 — Gospel: Mark 1:40-45

Beyond human perception

The healing of a leper is found in Synoptics (Mk 1,40-45; Mt 8,1-4; Lk 5,12-15), but both Matthew and Luke omit the emotional reactions of Jesus found in Mark. In all three accounts it is clear that the leper broke social conventions in his desperate attempt to get help. He breaks the law of purity of the Jewish society as he approached Jesus. Rather than recoiling from the leper, as many of his contemporaries might have done, Jesus responds to the leper with kindness and reaches out to touch the untouchable. The man was immediately cleansed from his leprosy, and Jesus helped to arrange for his social reintegration by directing him to go through the steps mandated by the law of Moses (Mk 1,44; cf. Lev 14,1-32). Jesus’ precedent action here is more direct, more immediate and consequently, more powerful. By touching the leper, Jesus bridges the gap between the clean and the unclean, and goes beyond the ordinary human perception of love. This bridging is a radical step to proclaim in action that everyone is welcomed to enter the kingdom of God.

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