Posted by: fvbcdm | December 10, 2012

Feast of Saint Peter Duong (10 Dec 2012)

The readings at Mass during the holy season of Advent are designed to answer the question: what sort of man is this Jesus, whose birthday we are preparing to celebrate at Christmas? Notice, I say “what sort of man?”, but I could just as correctly say, “what sort of God?”, since he is both. In today’s first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, we get a beautiful portrayal of the kingdom of God which the Savior was to inaugurate in our world. The prophet prays: “Make firm the knees that are weak,” and, a little later on, “Then will the lame leap like a stag.” The gospel passage, which fulfills that Old Testament prophecy, describes the rather bizarre and funny episode in which a group of men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. But our Lord is talking to a large group of people gathered in a sort of patio of a Palestinian home, with a simple thatch and wattle roof over it. The crowd is so dense that they can’t bring their friend before Our Lord, so they manage to get him and the mat on which he was lying up to that rather primitive roof. Then they make a hole in the roof just above where Jesus is preaching, and they let him down by the corners of his mat through the roof, right at the feet of Our Lord! Strange proceedings, to be sure! Jesus says to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.” What sins? No mention has been made yet of sins, but Jesus knows of them. How does he know of them? And by what authority does he say that they are forgiven? The Pharisees, who were very law-abiding Jews who were proud of their religious uprightness and took an instant dislike to Jesus as soon as his public life began, are furious at Our Lord’s words and accuse him—in their own thoughts—of blasphemy, which means insulting God. They correctly judge that his words are a veiled claim to divinity, but incorrectly judge that he has no right to make that claim.

Jesus reads their thoughts and says, “Which is easier: to say ‘your sins are forgiven’ or to say ‘rise and walk’?” But to prove that he has the invisible power to forgive sin, he says to the lame man, “rise and walk,” thus exercising the visible power to cure a paralyzed man. Saint Luke tells us that astonishment seized them all, and awestruck, they glorified God and said, “We have seen incredible things today!”

That, my dear friends, is the God and the man who Jesus is. A person who, by his divine power can read thoughts, know the secrets of the conscience, and forgive sin. A person who, in his human kindness and love for his fellow men gives much more than is asked. They asked only for a cure; they got a cure plus forgiveness of sin, plus reassurance that the formerly paralyzed man is now hale and hearty in soul, mind, and body. It is this God-man whose birthday delights the Christian world each year and gives us the joy of knowing that we have such a kind, friendly God and Savior. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message in the past.



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