Friday, January 16, 2009

"Which is easier?"

Today's Gospel from Mark 2:1-12 gives us the story about the paralytic healed by Jesus after he was brought to his home (imagine for a while being the next door neighbor of Jesus Christ) and lowered through the roof by four friends.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus saw "their faith", the faith of the men who carried their friend to Jesus' home, and because of that faith, told the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven."  A great thing to remember: we can bring our friends to Christ (physically or spiritually) and our efforts can have an effect.  But that's not why I wrote this.

"Which is easier?" is what Jesus responds when the Scribes in his home watch him have the audacity to presume to forgive the sins of the paralytic.  Of course he could forgive the man's sins, but that's another topic, too.  I love that line, "Which is easier?"

Our culture says that whatever is easier must be better.  A meal that is cooked in 2 minutes, 30 seconds in a microwave must be better than a meal that takes forty-five minutes to prepare.  A workout plan that involves twenty minutes of exercise a day must be better than a workout plan that involves an hour at the gym.

In our faith life, we can fall into the same trap.  On Sunday, it's "easier" to stay inside and relax than to get everyone up and dressed and into the car for Mass.  It's "easier" to tell my sins to God directly then to have to get to the church for Confession.  It's "easier" to read what the secular news writes about some new Church document than it is to download the document and read the pages myself.  For a clergyman, it's "easier" to use a, shall we say, "certified previously owned" homily than it is to write a new one for the weekend.

Easier? Definitely.  But better?  Nope.

We take the lesson from Christ.  It would have been easy for him to simply say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven."  It's challenge-proof; who would be able to tell if they were forgiven or not?  But, as the Gospel relates, "knowing the thoughts of the Scribes" (I love that part; there's no fooling God), he chooses to do the more difficult of the two things:  He heals the man.  Interesting, isn't it?  For the faith of the four friends, he forgives the paralytic's sins; for the disbelief of the scribes, he heals his body.  The paralytic neither asks for anything nor says anything in today's Gospel.  He "rises, picks up his mat, and walks away".

Now, all we've gotta figure out is who's gonna fix Jesus' roof?

No comments: