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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Gen 22:1-19): God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, «Abraham!». «Here I am», he replied. Then God said: «Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering on a height that I will point out to you». Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering, set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar. Then he said to his servants: «Both of you stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over yonder. We will worship and then come back to you».

Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac's shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham: «Father!», he said. «Yes, son», he replied. Isaac continued, «Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?». «Son», Abraham answered, «God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering». Then the two continued going forward. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.

But the Lord's messenger called to him from heaven, «Abraham, Abraham!». «Here I am», he answered. «Do not lay your hand on the boy», said the messenger. «Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son». As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh; hence people now say, «On the mountain the Lord will see». Again the Lord's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: «I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing Ball this because you obeyed my command». Abraham then returned to his servants, and they set out together for Beer-sheba, where Abraham made his home.
Responsorial Psalm: 114
R/. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
Not to us, o Lord, not to us but to your name give glory because of your kindness, because of your truth. Why should the pagans say, «Where is their God?».

Our God is in heaven; whatever he wills, he does. Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men.

They have mouths but speak not; they have eyes but see not; they have ears but hear not; they have noses but smell not.

Their makers shall be like them, everyone who trusts in them. The house of Israel trusts in the Lord; he is their help and their shield.
Versicle before the Gospel (2Cor 5:19): Alleluia. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 9:1-8): After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

Fr. Francesc NICOLAU i Pous (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we find one of the many evangelic manifestations evidencing the merciful goodness of the Lord. They all show many aspects, rich in details. Jesus' compassion, mercifully exerted, goes from resurrecting the dead or healing a leper to forgiving an openly sinful woman; He heals many ailments and accepts repented sinners —as shown in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost drachma and the prodigal son.

Today's Gospel is another instance of the Savior’s mercy, in two respects: the illness of the body and the sickness of the soul. And, the soul being more important, is where Jesus starts. He knows the sick man has repented of his faults, He sees his faith and that of those bringing him, and says: “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9:2).

Why does He start like this without his having been asked to do so? He is, of course, aware of what the paralytic is thinking, and He knows this is what he will appreciate the most; for when facing the sanctity of Jesus, the paralytic might feel confused and ashamed of his own faults, which may hamper his healing. So the Lord wants to put him at ease first. Jesus does not care whether some teachers of the law murmur in their hearts. Not only is a part of his message to prove He has come to show his mercy towards sinners, He now proclaims it.

Thus, while those blinded by their pride think of themselves as the only just ones, and refuse to accept Jesus' claim, those that sincerely consider themselves as sinners, do take Him in. It is towards them that God sees fit to forgive. As St. Augustine says: “For here is great misery, proud man! But there is greater mercy, a humble God!” And, in this case, the divine mercy goes even further: as an additional complement to his forgiveness, He heals the paralytic as well: “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home” (Mt 9:6). Jesus wants the sinner's joy to be complete.

We must reaffirm our confidence in Him. But, we should remember we are also sinners, so let us not close ourselves to his grace.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “For here is great misery, proud man! But there is greater mercy, a humble God!” (Saint Augustine)

  • “The paralytic could not have met Him if there had not been others who carried him on the stretcher. It is always nice to be able to count on people who bring us closer to Jesus through the example of their good works. Personal holiness helps others to be holy.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “‘God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us’ (Saint Augustine). To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults (...)” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 1847)