January 13, 2023 –
Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them ….
“Which is easier, to say… ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?” Jesus’ question to the scribes is rhetorical. Here, at the beginning of only the second chapter of Mark’s gospel account, we see opposition to Jesus. It’s true that the scribes are keeping their opposition to Jesus to themselves at this point: they aren’t even whispering secretively to each other. They’re only speaking within their own minds, saying, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Since He is God, though, Jesus can read their minds. God can read your mind also. God knows what sort of opposition dwells in our minds, and keeps us from being His instruments. Certainly Jesus wanted the scribes to embrace the Gospel. Jesus wanted the scribes to recognize who He was, to follow Him, and with their talents to serve God, and to spread His Kingdom. But these tiny thoughts of the scribes—“Why does this man speak that way?”—were the seeds that would blossom three years later into the foul fruit, the foul choice to put the Son of Man to death on the Cross.
It’s because of this, because “Jesus immediately knew in His mind what [the scribes] were thinking”, that He heals the paralytic. The paralytic man is an instrument that Jesus uses to try and heal the scribes. In all likelihood, if it had not been for the seeds of doubt that were germinating in the minds of the scribes, Jesus would not have worked this miracle. But because of the sickness in the scribes’ minds, Jesus uses the sickness of the paralytic to try to heal the scribes.
But unfortunately, there is a huge difference between these two types of sickness: the sickness of the scribes, and the sickness of the paralytic. The sickness of the scribes—as is the case with the sins of every sinner—is freely chosen, so these sick persons have to ask freely for healing.