16 January 2009. Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrew 4, 1-5; Psalm 78; Mark 2, 1-12
The faith of friends is the focus of the Gospel today. I remember the question of one of my students. He said, “Will our prayer for a friend of ours who is ill be effective when he has declared he does not believe in God?” And so I gave this passage to him and told him that the paralytic was cured, not because of his faith, but because of his friends.
Many of us sometimes use our ways and apply it to God. If a person does not believe in God, we think that God will not care about him. We think that a sinner deserves to be punished; and therefore any sinful person does not deserve God’s love. We think this way because this is how we operate: we punish the offenders and no mercy is given to those who has wronged us. In fact, many of us started off in faith in this kind of paradigm: be good or else you will be punished. And so many of us live in real fear of God (note: this is not the holy ‘fear of the Lord’ we find in scripture). Fear of God here is like the fear we feel about our parents. If our grades dipped, our parents punish us; so we are afraid of them. I know many students would wish to conceal their plunging grades. Thus many of us develop a fear conscience also known as a scrupulous conscience. God is someone to be afraid of.
But God’s ways are not our ways. The four friends would like the paralytic to be cured. And so they have devised means to bring him closer to Jesus despite the crowd. They had this crazy idea of opening up the roof where Jesus was teaching. But they were good friends, and so they did everything in their power for the paralyzed. So when Jesus saw their faith, He took away the paralytic’s disability.
So it is for us. We should believe in the power of prayer. It’s effectivity does not lie on the status or ‘state of grace’ of the recipient of our supplications. What matters is that WE who love pray for them. And we can be assured that God will not deny even those who do not believe in Him, the healing they need. Why? Because this is what God is: He is merciful to all and so He sends the rain both on the weeds and the wheat.