Great Lent: Sunday Bible Reading Week 26 March 2018
Today’s Gospel (Mark 2:1-12, see sidebar), read on the Second Sunday of Great Lent (Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas) describes one of the many miracles performed by Christ and highlights once again His divinity.
Jesus heals the paralytic, telling him: “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Before this, however, Christ forgave him his sins, which is an important point because as the scribes correctly note, God alone can forgive sins.
One reason that God, through the person of Jesus Christ, took on flesh and came into the world was to forgive sins and by His love and mercy free humanity from its bondage and slavery.
The forgiveness of sins and, by extension, our salvation, also requires our contribution of faith in Christ, a central theme in today’s Gospel and the focus of this week’s Sunday Bible reading message.
Last week, we emphasized the strong faith of Philip and Nathanael, who followed Christ and became His disciples. This week it is not only the faith of the paralytic that Mark the Evangelist describes, but it is also the strong faith of the “four men” that we read in the Gospel.
St. Mark records so many people had gathered to see Christ that there was no room at the home for others. What did these four men, who “…could not get near him because of the crowd…” decide to do? Did they explain to the paralytic that it was too crowded and therefore he could not see Jesus? Did they tell him that they would come back and try again later? No! They did not give up. They did not despair. They showed their faith! The four men took the extraordinary step to “remove the roof” in order to lay down the pallet with the paralytic on it.
Last week, we posed some questions for the faithful to contemplate and this week we will do the same.
Do we share our faith, together with our love and compassion, with our friends, family, and those around us?
Do we leverage our faith to help others, like the paralytic’s friends did, which helped in his healing? Do we go the extra mile, make that extra effort, when someone around us is in need?
When Christ entered the home, all flocked to see Him; do we flock to Church to meet Christ and to do so intimately through our partaking of Holy Communion? Faith is not only personal, but collective as well. The Church, for example, is a community – a collective – of the faithful with Christ at the centre.
During Great Lent this week, let us keep these questions in our mind, for if we do, we will see the miracles of Christ, like the paralytic and his four friends saw in Capernaum.
Apolytikion (Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas)
O Gregory the Miracle Worker, light of Orthodoxy, support and teacher of the Church, comeliness of Monastics, invincible defender of theologians, the pride of Thessalonica, and preacher of grace, intercede forever that our souls may be saved.