Mark 2: 1-12
When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,“ Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.”
And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The Christian Unity Octave was inaugurated by Pope John XXIII at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. It begins today and concludes on Friday, January 25th, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The following prayer is an invitation to the ministry of reconciliation which is at the heart of our prayer for unity among the Christian communities of the world.
Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
for when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice or hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Holy Spirit.
—William Breault, SJ
—Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO
(May this poem inspire us to beware of the scarcity thinking that fuels the spirit of division.)
Six humans trapped by happenstance, in bleak and bitter cold;
Each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs, the first man held his back,
For of the faces round the fire, he noticed one was black.
The next man looking cross the way, saw no one of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes, he gave his coat a hitch;
Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned from the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.
The last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.
Their logs held tight in death’s still hand was proof of human sin:
They didn’t die from the cold without –
They died from the cold within.
— James Patrick Kinney