22 February 2009 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 43, 18-25; Psalm 41; 2 Cor 1, 18-22; Mark 2, 1-12
The readings today are all about healing. Our physical bodies have been damaged by disease. Our psycho-emotional state have been disturbed by a painful history. Our spiritual lives have been injured by sin. Healing is about restoration from illness, distress, or undesirable situations to health, wholeness, and integrity. Healing allows us to have a new life!
I have three points today. First, we take from the first reading. The book of Isaiah says: “Thus says the Lord: Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” Sometimes we are unable to heal because we are stuck in the past; or we are controlled and determined by the things that haunt us. Even physical illness is caused by what we uncontrollably eat -- the foods we crave and are addicted to. We are not to deny what had happened (or what we ate); in fact, we have to learn from our experiences. But what has been is done. We move on. But to move on, the Lord tells us to leave the past behind (and learn from it), and be convinced that the Lord has something in store for us. To be able to heal is to accept what has been and face the future with hope and optimism. Every day is another chance to start anew.
Second, we take from the second reading. The reason why we are able to hope for a new life is the truth God is faithful to us. He has promised us in the first place. Jesus said that He will be with us until the end of time. And because Someone promised to accompany us, the future becomes brighter and we become less frightened. Our experience has it that when we face a challenge or a cross-road in our lives, what assures us are the words of comfort, consolation and support from our family and friends. We may not know what will happen, the future is uncertain, but with the assurances of loved ones, it acquires a shape: at the very least, we definitely know who will be with us. Our parents prayed to the Lord and at the same time promised each other during their wedding day: “Grant us, O Lord, to be one heart and one soul, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Whatever the future brings, God’s love and our love for each other are our assurance.
Third, we take from the Gospel. The second point is illustrated in the story of the paralytic. The paralytic was brought to Jesus by his friends. Jesus saw the faith of his friends, so He was able to stand up and walk. The story of the paralytic tells us that our prayers for our friends are effective. Many people ask the question: “If the sick we are praying for is an unbeliever, immoral, wicked, corrupt, criminal, scandalous and deplorable, will God still listen to our prayers?” The answer is yes. God sends the rain to both the weeds and wheat. God’s mercy does not depend on the state and amount of sin the person has committed; He is not punitive. Good parents say that whatever happens, their children will remain their children. However, it would be better if the ailing also desires the healing hand of God.
The Responsorial Psalm sums our prayers today: We implore God for healing. God heals us by giving us many opportunities to live anew. God heals us by assuring us of His faithfulness and love. And finally, God heals us by giving us people who nurture and pray for us.