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Mark 2:1-12 – The Healing of the Paralytic
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today’s gospel narrates to us  the cure of the paralytic who was brought on a mat by his four friends to Jesus. Since it was physically imposible for them to approach Jesus they went to the roof, made a hole in it where they could bring the paralytic down through the rope to where the Lord was teaching. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). This scandalized the Pharisees for it is only God who can forgive sins ((v. 8). In order to show them that He is indeed God and a Messiah who has the power  to forgive and to heal, he said to the paralytic :  “Stand up, pick up your mat and go home” (see v. 11).

What is something unusual about this incident is that most miracle stories in the gospel occur because of the faith of the one who is helped. Such was the case of the Canaanite woman, for example, or the blind Bartimaeus. In today’s Gospel story we seem to have a miracle occurring almost independently of the man being cured. His sins are forgiven and he is cured, not  because of his faith but because of the faith of his friends and their mediation. Let this story be a constant reminder for all of us of the validity and the power of the prayer of intercession.

Along with prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, contrition, there is also another prayer that exists and is effective, That prayer is the prayer of intercession. Prayer of intercession belongs to the prayer of petition. What ‘s the slight difference between the two? Wnen we are praying for ourselves that is prayer of petition. When we are prayer for others or requesting others to pray for us that is prayer of petition.

The Church teaches in her Catechism (CCC 2634) that “Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men especially sinners (cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; Tim 2:5-8). He is “able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us…and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” Rom 8:26-27).

In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm (Phil 2:4; cf. Acts 7:60; Lk 23:28, 34). The intercession of Christians recognized no boundaries: “for all men; for king and all who are in high positions,”  for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the gospel (1 Tim 2:1; cf. Rom 12:14; 10:1).

Indeed the prayer of intercession is valid, effective and praiseworthy.  Like Jesus, let us never fail to pray for others especially those who are in need of our prayers.  When we feel  unworthy or inadequate to pray let us request others to pray for us especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother too.

Pray for peace and unity of the world, healing and reconciliation among nations, groups and individuals whose relationship is characterized by divisions and conflicts. Pray also for the conversion of sinners and for the sanctification and salvation of the whole humanity.

In particular, I exhort you to pray for the Church specially for the priests: “We are used to asking the priests to pray for us. In these trying times for them and for the Church as a whole, I am asking you to pray for them” (Lingayen-Dagupan  Archbishop Oscar Cruz).

Related Gospel Reflection:

by Fr. Jerry Orbos

    Mk 1:40-45 – The Cleansing of the Leper
    Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Leprosy, is a disease caused by the mycobacterium leprae bacteria, this kind of bacterium affects the body’s nervous system, concentrating on the cooler parts of the body. Affected areas are skin, eyes, and muscles in the hands and feet. There are two different initial reactions to the disease: Some people develop clearly defined pale skin patches, indicating the bacterium is isolated in one area. In more extreme cases where the patient has no resistance to the disease, there is very little definition between the patches and healthy skin. With this type of case, it is much more difficult to detect the disease in its very early stages. As the disease progresses, the symptoms only get worse. Numbness in hands and feet make the patient vulnerable to cuts and infections that cannot be felt. Stiffened muscles cause clawed hands. Loss of the blinking reflex leads to total blindness. In some cases amputation of fingers, an arm, or a leg is necessary.

    Ever since Biblical times, people have been fearful of leprosy. Most people think of leprosy as an ancient disease. but the harsh reality is that hundreds of thousands of people contract this devastating disease each year and millions more suffer from its terrible consequences. Some statistics presented by the World Health Organization make us reflect: At the beginning of 2005 the declared cases of leprosy in Africa were 47,596, in America 36,877, in Southeast Asia 186,182, in the Eastern Mediterranean 5,398, and in the West Pacific 10,010. Fortunately, according to the WHO, certain statistics exist that refer to a regression of this disease, at least according to the declared data: From 763,262 people suffering from leprosy in 2001 the figure fell to 407,791 in 2004.

    It has been said, that every two minutes, someone is told he or she has leprosy. Many think leprosy is a disease of past generations but in many regions, especially in areas of chronic poverty, leprosy continues to attack children, women, and men. People are being shamed, abandoned, rejected, and despised simply because their families and communities do not understand the disease. Many believe leprosy is a curse or punishment from the gods.

    It is hard for us today to imagine the awful condition of the leper in New Testament times. He was considered legally dead. But, worse, he was considered morally unclean. Forbidden to enter any walled city-lashed thirty-nine times if he did-he wandered, muffled to the eyes, crying ‘Unclean!’

    Under Jewish law, no one could greet him. Under the law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper-one hundred feet if the wind came from his direction. Any building he entered was considered defiled and had to be purified. The common practice was to throw stones at or run and hide from any leper who approached.

    Such was the man who came to Jesus. What compassion and greatness he must have sensed in the Master to break the law in this manner. And what was the response? Against all law and tradition, Jesus reached out and touched the leper and by His touch cleansed him of his filthiness. By His touch, to save His brother, Jesus descended lower than any man-exactly as He did, later, to save each of us.

    We are that leper, each of us unclean in his own way, inside, many of us feel dirty, ugly, leprous, each of us crying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. The Gospel message is clear: Jesus is approachable no matter what our condition. Jesus will never reject us no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or how we look (Jn 6:37). This explains why the leper of today’s Gospel does the opposite of what is expected  by the society and demanded by the law; he approaches Jesus. Jesus also does the unthinkable by stretching out His hand and touching the leper (Mk 1:41) and consequently, healed him.

    Never hesitate to approach Jesus, healer of mind, body and soul, in prayer for healing, deliverance, consolation, and perseverance.  Likewise never deprive anyone of God’s loving kindness even those who are considered by law and our society as the untouchable, unlovable, undesirable,  and unbearable.

    Picture: http://www.about.com

    Useful Article:

    Mk 1:21-28 – The Cure of the Demoniac
    4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
    February 1, 2009

    If one admits the existence of the devil, one must also admit the possibility of diabolical activity in our world. Diabolical possession is a tangible proof of the existence of the devil and a visible manifestation of his power.

    This is not something in the realm of possibility; it is a fact. There are seven incidents in the Gospel that deal with diabolical possession. Three of them are passing references to exorcisms (Mt 8:32-33, 12:22; Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2). The remaining four are described in greater detail: the demoniac of Capernaum (Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37); the demoniacs of Gadara (Mt 8:28-34; Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-29); the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30); and the epileptic demoniac (Mt 17:14-20; Mk 9:13-28; Lk 9:37-43).

    In the time of Christ, there was a great deal of diabolical infestation, perhaps more than at any other time in history; conversely, there were numerous charismatic gifts at the beginning of Christian evangelization.

    Diabolical activity can be divided into two types: ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary diabolical activity occurs when the devil incites a person to sin. Extraordinary diabolical activity is divided into three types: local infestation, diabolical obsession, and diabolical possession.

    Local infestation occurs when the devil has direct and immediate contact with inanimate objects, plants, or animals in order to exert an evil influence or even physical harm on persons.

    Diabolical obsession (also called personal infestation) occurs when the devil focuses his power and activity on an individual human being. He operates from the outside, on the external or internal sense faculties, but he can never gain control of the intellect and will of the individual.

    Diabolical possession occurs when the devil invades the body of a person and exercises despotic dominion over the organs and faculties of the individual, manipulating them as one would a puppet. His dominion, however, is restricted to the body; he cannot invade the soul or gain control over the spiritual faculties of intellect and will. Two factors are involved in diabolical possession: the presence of the devil in the body of a human being and the exercise of diabolical power. Possession by the devil is openly manifested during the periods of crisis. There will be seizures and convulsions, blasphemy, obscene words or actions, fits of anger or irreverence. The victims usually are not conscious of what they are doing, and they have no recollection when they come out of the period of crisis.

    The Roman Ritual, first published in 1614, stated that if a person exhibited a hatred and aversion to the sacred as well as certain specified symptoms, those phenomena were “indicative” of diabolical possession. The three requisite symptoms were: to speak or understand a previously unknown language (glossolalia), to identify objects at a great distance or hidden from view, and to exhibit strength far beyond the age or condition of the individual (see Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine as reference for above data).

    In today’s gospel about the healing of the  demoniac, however, Jesus is presented to have power even to the supernatural world. In a similar story, he could even expel demons from the two  possessed men who had superhuman strength, self-destructive and dangerous that no one could travel by the road where they lived [Mt 8:28] and no one could bind these men possessed by 6000 demons with success.

    In contrast to the people of Nazareth who earlier rejects Jesus, the people of Capernaum recognize his power to drive out demons. He has no need to resort to unusual methods in driving out unclean spirits. He has but to speak with authority and they come out. Leaving the victim unharmed. The Jews were spellbound to hear Jesus speaking with authority unlike the Pharisees and the scribes that even the evil spirits at Jesus’ commands obey him.

    Indeed Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophesy. Jesus, the  Messiah, who has been sent to proclaim liberty to the captives and  release to the prisoners  [Is 61:1; Lk 4:18] also frees those who are oppressed by the demons. Pray to Jesus that he will set us free us from our slavery to sin and from the dominion and oppression of Satan and the evil ones.

    “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:6-10).

    Picture: Jupiter Images

    Alternative Homily:


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