Reflection for Friday, January 15, 2021: 1st Week in Ordinary Time.

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Crawford, David
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|Spend a little time around this Jesuit university – or reading these reflections – and you will encounter the concept of Ignatian contemplation, of prayerful imagination to deepen our understanding of Scriptures and to strengthen our relationship with God.  In other words, prayerfully imagine ourself as a participant in the scenes from the Gospels.  The four main parties in today's Gospel reading are: a group who brings a paralytic, the paralytic, some scribes, and Jesus.  Other than Jesus, we know very little about the various parties, and the list of what we do not know is quite long.|Let's start with the individuals who carried the paralyzed man to see Jesus.  These folks were hopeful, and they were persistent.  We know from the end of the first chapter of Mark that Jesus's reputation as a healer attracted people from all over, so it is no surprise to find the group in Mark 2 bringing someone to Jesus with the hope for a successful cure.  Mark does not tell us how far they traveled to get to the house where Jesus was teaching, but they were not deterred by the crowd that blocked their approach to Jesus.  They creatively (and a little destructively) refused to give up as they went about helping someone in need.|The paralyzed individual at the center of the story really does not do much until the very end.  He received help from the group, and he received forgiveness and healing from Jesus.  When he acts, though, he does so obediently and immediately.  (In my imagining, this is the character I have the most difficulty relating to.  Asking for or accepting help does not come easily.  My fear of heights would make me uncomfortable being lowered through the ceiling.  Obedience does not come naturally, and I suspect my response would have been a bit slower, after some stretching and testing of limbs.)|The scribes intrigue me.  They had come to listen to Jesus teach – and had gotten there early enough to have a place in the crowded room.  Their reaction was not, at least externally, hostile.  As persons familiar with the law of Moses, they had come to learn and found themselves struggling to reconcile what they were witnessing – Spirit-filled teaching and miraculous healing – with their own preconceived understanding of the law, of righteousness, and of God.|Jesus, in a few short sentences, touches on multiple points.  He recognizes the caring efforts of the ones who opened up a roof to lower a man so he could be healed.  He looks at the paralyzed man and sees not just what everyone else sees – a person in need of physical restoration – but also the deeper need for forgiveness.  He understands the doubts and limitations of people who want to know God better but keep getting in their own way.|So, as I imagine myself one of the carriers, I notice that I should be willing to love my neighbors by helping those in need; and my willingness must be persistent and filled with hope.  As the injured soul, I should be willing to accept help, and I absolutely must be immediately obedient to Christ's commands.  The scribe in me has to be aware of – and must resist – a wrongheaded tendency to make myself the arbiter of what God can or cannot do.  Ultimately, I must be ready to offer love and forgiveness as Jesus would have me do.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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