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Reflections on Mark 2:1-12 Part 2


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"They were all amazed and glorified God" (Mark 2:12)



REFLECTIONS ON MARK 2:1-12 Part 2
THE GOSPEL OF LIFE, LOVE AND FREEDOM


Entrance to the house was blocked by the crowd and the paralytic and his friends have a problem: how to tackle this mission impossible. Everyone has to find out for himself how to access Jesus. We are all involved in the same learning process and our situation is no different from theirs. How can we access Jesus? The situation at Capernaum is also our situation: how to respond to that drawing power of Christ and the solution is suggested in the words of Jesus, “when Jesus saw their faith” (v. 5).  Access is no longer limited to one house; it is no longer just for those of a single well-circumscribed area, but for all people and all nations. He is universally accessible. We can choose our position: in the front rows of the sceptics, among the majority of the curious, uncommitted onlookers, or among the real believers immersed in faith, hope and charity, the unstoppables for whom this mission impossible becomes possible: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

How do I approach Jesus? With what spirit? With what inner disposition? Am I opening myself up to a personal encounter with Jesus or do I withdraw somewhat, becoming a spectator, seeking the non-committal safety of going through religious rituals but not getting too close for fear of being challenged? Am I seeking refuge in an intellectualisation of faith, which can be yet another form of self-defence, yet another obstacle to the healing presence of Jesus in our lives? Pope Francis exhorts all Christians to renew their relationship with Christ:
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. 1
What is it that actually unites this group of five? They have one common goal: to bring someone to a saving encounter with Jesus. He is the source of their unity. Their gaze is on him and on him alone. He is the source of their strength and determination. It is when the gaze of each and everyone is on him that unity and strength become possible. Only then can the impossible become possible. This is true of all Christian communities. To the extent that members of a Christian community take their gaze off him to focus on something or someone else that community is on the road to spiritual death and dismemberment and they enter into a so-called crisis of identity. When a Christian no longer focuses on Jesus his life begins to fragment and so does that of the community.

The members of this group experience the joy of spreading the Gospel. Evangelisation is not only a proclamation of the Good News in word and example; it is also creating the solidarity of a community where this good news can be shared and lived out in the power of the Holy Spirit. Evangelisation also means befriending the person you are bringing to Christ, it means serving him, being with him, being alongside him, being one with him. It is a friendship powered by divine love poured into each one of us and flowing out to the other. When the divine love in one believer encounters that same divine love in another we have that all powerful combination and things really start to happen. We enter into the dynamic of love, the explosive dynamic of the love of God, through the Holy Spirit. This is the heart and soul of genuine evangelisation. This is the powerful and living encounter with Christ that we bring others to experience. This is a foretaste of the Kingdom of God. Then healing takes place because there is living faith, hope and love. This is the real context of the message we proclaim. Words and life cannot be separated. Faith, hope, love, power, forgiveness, healing, this is the divine chain set in motion by those who long to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit in bringing a person to Christ. It is an exciting and transforming experience that envelopes us in divine joy knowing that we are collaborating in this new creation that God is bringing into being on a universal level. We can either bring the person to Christ by words and example like this group of five or block a person’s access to Jesus with our words and example like the crowds.

When the crowd begins to gather Jesus does not start healing; he starts teaching, ‘he was speaking the word to them’. He preached the Kingdom for as he said previously, in Mark 1:38, ‘for that is what I came out to do’. He did not come primarily to heal, but to preach the coming of the Kingdom because everything else would come in its wake (Matthew 6:33). He came to die in order to bring eternal, universal healing to those who approach him in earnest. Here healing is the confirmation and authentication of the message.

Words and actions go hand in hand and often in the Gospel it is the teaching that comes first. However, it is surprising how many today separate them and more often than not out of convenience or some distorted notion of ‘political correctness’. And it is surprising how many are eager to quote what they believe to be the words of St. Francis to justify remaining silent “Preach the Gospel always! When necessary, use words.” 2

In the person of the paralytic we have the image of a man whose relational world is undermined. Jesus goes right to the heart of the matter. He sees the root of all suffering and fragmentation in the broken relationship between man and God. Here the vital message for man is that we need the healing touch of Jesus, who alone can bridge the gap between God and man enabling the restoration of spirit, soul and body. Here Jesus addresses the root problem, the invisible but all-important illness, the rift between man and God caused by sin. Jesus restores this spiritual relationship by forgiving the sins of the paralytic. Only when this obstacle has been removed and the vital relationship between the individual and God has been restored do we have healing on other levels of existence. Having a right relationship with God is the key to having right relations in all other spheres of life; it is the key to wholeness and wellbeing for ourselves and in our relations with others. Only then can man really be himself, the self he was meant to be. Here physical healing takes place to confirm the message.



NOTES


1Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) #3 . http://www.vatican.va/evangelii-gaudium/en/ visited 17/8/2016.

2 Contrary to popular belief these words were never uttered by St. Francis. In fact, depending on the interpretation of these words, they can potentially undermine the importance of the last commandment addressed to all believers, to preach the Gospels.



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