Body and Blood of Christ


Drinking Well


7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Those who had known him all along


When Jesus returned to Capernaum some time later, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door.  He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. 
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "My child, your sins are forgiven."  Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, "How can this man talk like this? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?"  Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, "Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk'?  But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins," - he said to the paralytic - "I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home."

And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
                                                                                           Mark 2:1-12


Some years ago the poet, Seamus Heaney had a stroke. While he was recuperating in hospital he remembered the gospel story about the paralysed man who was let down through the roof in the crowded house where Jesus was. What caught the poet’s attention was not the man who was cured and got up and went home, but the people who brought him on the stretcher. They reminded Seamus Heaney of the friends who were with him in the B & B when he became ill; they took him down the stairs and brought him to the hospital.  He thought again of those who brought the paralysed man to Jesus. Their task that day was not an easy one: they carried him on the stretcher onto the roof and lowered him down in front of Jesus inside the house.  These are the last four lines of the poem:

Be mindful of them as they stand and wait
For the burn of the paid out ropes to cool,
Their slight lightheadedness and incredulity
To pass, those who had known him all along.

The poem is called Miracle. The miracle that catches Seamus Heaney’s attention is not the instant cure of the paralysed man, but the miracle of the kindness of the people who were there for him all the time and on that day brought him for healing.  The poem does not say that they were his relatives or his friends or his neighbours; twice it describes them simply as the ones ‘who had known him all along.’ 

The poem and the gospel story could set you thinking.  Who are the people who have known you all along?  Not the ones who came into your life for a while and went out again. Not just the ones who are dear to you, but the many others who have been there through the years. You may think of the people in your own home in the past: parents, brothers and sisters. The relationships may not always have been easy or very close, yet the family members were there and were willing to help if you needed them.  I think of husbands and wives who are married for long years; there may not be frequent expressions of affection and there may be occasional disagreements, but they are there for each other, and when one dies the other is keenly aware of how much the reliable presence of their spouse had meant to them.

Good Neighbours                                                                           
In times of crisis and in times of tragedy, we see the deeper side of the people who are always there.  Neighbours rally round and do whatever they can to help.  Last year Niamh Hourigan of University College Cork, edited a book about the economically deprived areas in Limerick, Understanding Limerick: Social Exclusion and Change.  It paints a disturbing picture of conditions in these estates. But it includes a chapter called 'Community Spirit and Neighbourliness in Moyross and Southill.' The authors of this section live and work in these areas and are fully aware of the suffering and the injustices recounted in the book. They describe the remarkable spirit of good neighbourliness in the estates; especially when families face loss or bereavement 

The paralysed man in the gospel story needed physical healing (‘Get up and walk’) and he needed spiritual healing (‘Your sins are forgiven’). Jesus was able to give both but he could not have done so Acknowledgement: The house of Peter at Capernaum. Anne Curry   that day without the generosity and ingenuity of the people who carried the man. I heard an experienced parish priest say recently that the most important thing in a parish community is friendship: parishioners befriending those they have known all their lives and reaching out to the new-comers among them.  St. Paul said much the same thing to the Galatians, ‘The whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself.’

Brendan Clifford


Prayer: Psalm 133
How good and how pleasant it is,
when people live in unity!
It is like precious oil upon the head
running down upon Aaron’s beard.
It is like the dew of Hermon which falls
on the heights of Zion.
For there the Lord gives his blessing,
life for ever.


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