Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
23 , 2003
José H. Gomez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
sisters and brothers in Christ:
Once again in today's scripture readings we contemplate the Love and Mercy
of God. God who is the only one who can forgive sins, in his infinite
mercy forgives us our sins as long as we are sorry for them and ask for
From today's first reading, "It is I, who wipe out, for my own sake,
your offences; your sins I remember no more".
This is also the main message of today's passage of the Gospel. Jesus
who forgives the paralytic man from his sins and this time even performs
a miracle to support his power.
Jesus clearly says that the reason he is curing the paralyzed man is to
show us that he has the power to forgive sins. "That you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to
the man who was paralyzed, I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go
to your home".
As I was thinking about this, I also reflected on two sides of the issue
that come together with God's mercy and are included in today's readings.
First, God's faithfulness to us. In today's 2nd reading St. Paul tells
the Corinthians that God's faithfulness is with us in Jesus Christ.
After original sin, "man was not abandon by God", He, God the
Father, promised to send his only son to redeem the world. "Christ,
the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and
of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light this most
high calling… Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us,
just like us in all things except sin".GS, 22
Men have offended His Father and He is the only man in the universe who
can make up that terrible offense of men toward His Father. Rather
than abandon this obligation, he freely undertakes to save men from their
sins--and often men who are ungrateful and unaware of the significance
of his fidelity to their cause--Christ's loyalty to men leads him to the
Incarnation and the Passion and death on the Cross.
God's Son was to share our human nature with us, and, in turn, we would
be sharers with him of his divine nature. St. Paul reminds us that all
the promises of the Father find their yes, their fulfillment, in Jesus.
To our weakness, God responds with His love and fidelity. We should never
forget that God is faithful! To the point of saying with the people of
today's Gospel: "We have never seen anything like this"
we truly are aware of this, then we will be able to react with trust and
confidence in God, especially to the temptation of despair and anxiety
when we see our own weaknesses or the treats of war or terrorism in today's
From today's Responsorial Psalm, "Because of my integrity you sustain
me and let me stand before you forever. Blessed be the Lord, the God of
Israel, from all eternity". Ps. 41
It is from that conviction of the faithful love of God for us that we
should try to do all we can to correspond with our own faithfulness
toGod and to serve others.
And secondly, the other aspect that we should notice in today's Gospel
is the actions of the friends of the paralytic man.
What great group of friends the paralytic in today's Gospel had. They
brought their friend to be healed; they exhibited great faith in Jesus,
and did all in their power to bring their ailing friend to him, lowering
him down on his pallet through the roof, through the crowd, to receive
These were not passive friends, waiting for Jesus to come to aid the paralytic;
they actively pursued him. They were not mere spectators in their community,
but activists in hoping to find a cure for their friend. Through their
efforts he was healed not only in body, but in spirit as well - a much
greater gift from God.
We should all have friends like those of the paralytic! Their devotion
is greatly rewarded. Notice that Jesus pronounces the paralytic forgiven
not upon seeing his great faith and devotion but that of his friends.
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Child your
sins are forgiven'".
should also practice that kind of friendship with our family and friends.
We have much to learn and much to emulate in reflecting upon their actions.
It is much easier to be passive, to let things come to us rather than
pursue them, to "not rock the boat." But the paralytic's friends
provide an example to us of acting upon our faith, using our talents to
make the world a better place, actively declaring our faith and living
it openly in our daily lives.
Our lives should not be limited to not doing evil, but to doing good.
Each of us can reach out to our family, our neighbors, our coworkers,
our fellow parishioners, acknowledging their physical or emotional needs,
but also supporting their spiritual needs.
In the words of St. John Chrysostom that I like to meditate often: "...nothing
can make us more like imitators of Christ than taking care of our neighbors.
You can fast, you can sleep on a hard floor, you may even be prepared
to die, but, if you do not look out for your neighbor you have done nothing
great. Whatever else you have done, you would still be a long way from
the ideal" (St. John Chrysostom, Obr X-85 p. 3).
There is much to do in our society and in our Church. From inviting someone
to discover the beauty of divine mercy in the sacrament of penance, to
participating in the life of society through our involvement in social,
cultural, political activities in our community, to simply making life
better to others with our positive view of life.
"On many occasions (our) task will be to point out whatever is positive,
since things well done encourage us to be better and bring us closer to
God. Let us be quick to notice the virtues of those around us … Let us
foster whatever good is born around us … Then we can help to transform
people and society" (Cf. In Conv. 3.53.3).
We can imagine the happiness of the friends of the paralytic when "He
rose, pick 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'"
In the same way we are encouraged today by God's love and faithfulness
to us and we want to renew our active participation and imitation of the
life of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve.
May, Mary our Blessed Mother, intercede for us that we can make some practical,
personal, resolutions to be more faithful to God and make life better
for others. Amen.