Incredible Things

One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”
(Luke 5:17-26)

Scripture Study

5:17 Pharisees and teachers of the law The Pharisees were Jewish religious authorities (not priests) who promoted strict adherence to the law of Moses (see John 7:32). Luke’s reference to teachers of the law probably is synonymous with the group mentioned in Luke 5:21. the power of the Lord The details of this verse are not found in Matthew’s or Mark’s account of the paralytic’s healing. The presence of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law—along with the description of Yahweh’s healing power being present in Jesus—sets the stage for Jesus’ miracle and His subsequent dispute with the religious authorities.

5:19 lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles Luke’s telling of this miracle reflects Mark’s tradition and includes many details that Matthew omits. This part of the story shows the great faith of the paralytic and his attendants; they are willing to do whatever is necessary in order to reach Jesus.

5:20 When he saw their faith Jesus often associates faith and healing (e.g., 7:9, 50; 8:48; 17:19; 18:42).

5:21 scribes Refers to trained interpreters of the law of Moses. In Luke, they are sometimes linked with the Pharisees (e.g., 6:7; 11:53) and sometimes with the chief priests (e.g., 19:47; 20:19; 22:2). blasphemies Sacrilegious or irreverent speech about God. Such an act—depending on the context of the offense—was punishable by death under the law (Lev 24:16).

5:23 which is easier to say The effects of forgiving sins could not be verified, but a miracle could be. In the verse that follows, Jesus takes the harder option and tells the man to stand up and walk. This exchange with the Pharisees sets up the healing to demonstrate Jesus’ authority to forgive sins.

5:24 the Son of Man has authority The theme of this section. The title Son of Man can convey several meanings; Jesus uses it here with Messianic connotations. Jesus uses this self-designation more than any other; it comes from the OT book of Daniel (see Dan 7:13). This title occurs 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and often stresses the exaltation of Jesus. Here, however, it highlights His position as a homeless itinerant (Mt 8:20).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today tells that wonderful story of the healing of the paralytic. People gather by the dozens to hear Jesus, crowding around the doorway of the house. They bring him a paralyzed man, and because there is no way to get him through the door, they climb up on the roof and open a space to lower him down.

Can I suggest a connection between this wonderful narrative and our present evangelical situation? There are an awful lot of Catholics who are paralyzed, unable to move, frozen in regard to Christ and the Church. This might be from doubt, from fear, from anger, from old resentment, from ignorance, or from self-reproach. Some of these reasons might be good; some might be bad.

Your job, as a believer, is to bring them to Christ. How? A word of encouragement, a challenge, an explanation, a word of forgiveness, a note, a phone call. We notice the wonderful urgency of these people as they bring the sick man to Jesus. Do we feel the same urgency within his mystical body today?

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.