13 January
Mk 2:1-12

When Jesus 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 paralysed 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!’ xx

“There is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed,” Jesus said once, “nothing kept secret except to be brought to light” (Mk 4:22).  How is a thought, for example, brought to light?  By becoming an action.  Thought is a kind of incipient action; when it is full-blown it is an action.  The Japanese Zen Master Deshimaru, who lived about fifteen years in France, said that western culture had become weak and decadent.  We have been weakened, he said, by excessive use of the mind and imagination, without action.  Of course we are active, but it is nervous activism, which can be a flight from real action.  We don’t bring our deepest thoughts to fruition in action, we complicate them so much that we can scarcely even understand them ourselves.  Thinking become so specialised that only philosophers can engage in it, and they become professors rather than doers.  Meanwhile the doers dive into activism.  You have lost the run of yourselves, he said. 

Jesus wasn’t thinking about sin as a concept, he saw it as a crippling thing.  “Is it easier to say to this paralysed man: Your sins are forgiven, or to say: Rise, take up your mat and walk?”  Then he said, “Stand up!”  And the man stood up and walked. 

[By the way, today is Friday 13th!  Should you go back to bed?!  Are you superstitious?  Why do some people think Friday 13th an unlucky day?  The reason is this: England was once a Catholic country, and there were many customs that expressed people’s devotion but appeared superstitious to some.  One of these was the belief that Friday was a good day on which to begin a job, because Jesus died on a Friday.  Another was that 13 was a good number, because of Jesus and the twelve apostles.  So Friday 13th was seen as a really good day!  But when the Puritans came to power there was a reaction against all this.  However, instead of saying that these days and dates were simply neutral, the opposite belief set in: that they were unlucky!   Similarly, walking under ladders used to remind people of the death of Jesus on the cross.  From England the belief spread to the rest of the world.  So I don't think you have to go back to bed!  But you can be reminded today of the death of Jesus.]


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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