Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
Februrary 22 A.D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
Psalm 41:2-3, 4-5, 13-14
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
A reflection on today's Scripture:
This is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time before Ash Wednesday!
It is very fitting that God's merciful forgiveness of sin is the major theme of our readings for the seventh Sunday.
In the first reading, Isaiah is writing at the end of the Babylonian Captivity. God had sent them into exile in the first place because of their sins and infidelity. Ironically, God has to urge and cajole them to leave! Why? Because they had grown too comfortable with the pagan lifestyle of their captors.
So, God makes their road home through the desert very attractive. Where their first path through the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land had been torturous and difficult, this new desert road to Jerusalem will have many watering holes along a straight and easy path. Though the chosen people have continually sinned, even in Babylon, God will now forgive them, and welcome them home!
In today's second reading, St. Paul is in a tight spot, for he had promised a second visit to the Corinthians, but later decided against it in an effort to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with some Jewish troublemakers. These people were trying to discredit Paul's authority. So Paul decided against his second visit. Still, he assures the Corinthians that, as God Himself is not "yes" one moment and "no" the next, neither is he. He has changed his mind solely out of love for them.
Today's Gospel narrates the astounding incident of the four friends of a paralytic letting the man down through the roof of the crowded room where Jesus is teaching. As the dust settles, Jesus looks into the eyes of the paralytic and has pity on him. First, He forgives the man's sins. When the scribes and Pharisees accuse Him of blasphemy, saying that only God can forgive sins, Jesus responds with a question:
"Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk?'"
But that the paralytic might know that the Son of Man had authority to forgive sins on earth, Jesus said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
And the man does it! Do we believe that Jesus in His mercy can forgive my sins? Why don't I ask Him more often?
What heroic friends that paralytic had! Without friends, the helpless ones in our society will not find life and health. In our own country, we need to be strong advocates for babies in the womb in danger of being aborted, for the elderly who face neglect and even euthanasia, for the millions without health insurance, and for the disabled and mentally ill who face neglect and abuse. We need to earnestly pray, and earnestly witness.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It's another time to seek absolution for sin, a time for opportunities to witness to the dignity of all life and to offer our service to those in need.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
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Sunday, February 22, 2009
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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