Homily for Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: I ORDER YOU: GET UP, PICK UP YOUR STRETCHER, AND GO OFF HOME
By: Rev. Fr. Utazi Prince Marie Benignus
Homily for Friday January 15 2021
Hebrews 4: 1-5, 11; Psalm 78: 3 and 4BC, 6C-7, 8; Mark 2: 1-12
Faith leads to rest and wholeness, healing and salvation.
Today’s First Reading ponders on the rest that is awaiting those who are faithful. The Letter to the Hebrews is addressed to Jews who have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Today’s passage refers to creation and also the entering into the Promise Land. It tells us that God rested on the seventh day of creation. Rest therefore, is a divine quality. Resting with God is something for which one must long. Rest (eternal rest) is the goal of those who remain faithful. The ancient Israelites were promised rest at the end of their 40 year journey in the desert. They were not able to fully enjoy that rest because they were not completely faithful to God. They forgot God’s great deeds.
The Responsorial speaks of the benefits that come from remembering the mighty deeds of God. It urges the Chosen People to call to mind God’s promises by remembering all of God’s glorious deeds. It is in remembering (the Hebrew concept of zikkaron) that God fulfills the promises made. When people forget God’s compassion and love, they fall into sin and lose the promised rest and the other gifts which God seeks to give to the faithful ones.
In the Gospel, Jesus continues His ministry by proclaiming the Good News in word and in actions. He returns to the town of Capernaum. Capernaum is a key city in Jesus’ early ministry. He seems to have set up as His headquarters this town where Peter, James, John, and Andrew were. As He ministers to the people gathered in a small house, the crowd fills the house and spills out into the area surrounding the house. Four friends of a paralyzed man bring the paralytic on stretcher, hoping to have Jesus heal the man. Because of the crowd, they cannot get into the house. They climb up to the roof top, remove the roof covering, and lower the paralytic down in front of Jesus. His action today is in response to the faith of a paralyzed man and his friends. It leads to wholeness, healing and salvation of soul and mind and body. He heals the man’s spiritual illness by forgiving the paralytic’s sins. However, the religious leaders were not happy at this event. Jesus demonstrates not only His power to bring spiritual healing and wholeness but also physical wholeness and healing by healing the man of his physical illness. The man stands up, picks up his stretcher, and walks away.
Dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, faith is first and foremost a gift from God. God is the giver of faith. This is the great deed which God performs. Second, faith is the human response to God’s action. It may be the moving force which leads some people to bring a friend for healing. It may be living a life which shows that one is journeying toward the place of eternal rest. The more we respond positively to God’s action, the easier it is for God to continue to do mighty deeds in our lives and the lives of the people around us. This does not mean that our journey here on earth is filled with rest. Our path of life and faith is filled with paralyzing experiences, happenings that prevent us from acting the way we would like to act. It can be the death of a loved one, the pandemic, dealing with a medical problem with a family member, having to face tests and trials, financial worries and so on. Any of these experiences could paralyze our relationship with God if we only focus on the pain, the sorrow, the struggle, and/or the hurt. We need to look at God’s Word, the divine action recounting what God has done for the Chosen People. We also need to look to the promise of rest with God. It is only when we reflect on how God has been moving in the lives of faith-filled people and what God has in store for us that we can start to move with the freedom of people who have been touched by the Lord Jesus, and we can proclaim what we have received the physical, mental, and spiritual healing and wholeness, which leads to resting in God’s presence.
It is only God that can give you rest. Learn to follow God’s word and obey him. Today, Jesus says to the paralytic, ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ May these words of Jesus continue to resound in our lives, in our families, in our Academics, in our working and trading places, in our vocations. Do not lose hope. The Great Master is here. His name is Jesus. He calls on us to come to him and have rest (Matt. 11:28-30). He promises provision for you (John 7:37-39). This provision is for both Spiritual and Physical needs.
*MEDITATION* When I think about a time of being paralyzed by fear, worries, or pain, how would I best describe some of the feelings associated with that time? What energized me during those times when I felt debilitated? Was faith a part of my recovery? Do I sense that God continues to stretch out the divine healing hand of salus to me? Do I always remember God’s gracious acts in my life or do I often forget God’s mighty deeds when I feel incapacitated? How can I help others to sense God’s faithful actions in their lives as they face times of spiritual, emotional, mental, or spiritual paralysis?
*PRAYER* Lord God, may Your Holy Spirit energize us so that we can stand up with faith and travel on, following Your Son. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
*O DIVINE WORD WHO TOOK FLESH FOR HUMAN SAKE, REDEEM US IN OUR SITUATIONS*
©️ Rev. Fr. Utazi Prince Marie Benignus