The reading for the 2nd Sunday of the Great Lent from Mark (2:1-12) and we are slowly entering a period of preparation for Easter with a variety of liturgical services and focused gospel readings. Mark brings to focus the condition of paralysis: a condition that many of us would consider a living death. We read of the animosity of hostile bystanders towards Jesus. Jesus was constantly speaking about the kingdom – the good news – to repent, have faith and your life will be renewed. We also read of the extraordinary efforts expended by the paralytic man’s friends, their resourcefulness to overcome obstacles such as the crush of people listening to Jesus, the opening of the roof, the lifting of “dead weight” and then the lowering of that weight down in front of Jesus without any mishaps so the paralytic could listen to Jesus. These are acts of great faith by all involved. A huge effort by all to listen to Jesus so that their lives could be transformed.

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The man’s paralysis would have shaped his personality and life and bound him to his fate. His paralysis also moved other people to volunteer making themselves available to help the man form a relationship. Jesus’ ministry, his time on earth, was always focused on relationships, providing individuals with the freedom to live a life beyond what they had known. Jesus was freeing people from all types of paralysis that bound them. This was often healing physically as a sign of his capacity for people to believe that he was the promised Messiah. The two combined are what people of the time could see and understand and to show those who were against him that – yes, it is possible.

We can ask if the paralytic’s greatest need was for forgiveness or to walk, surely a no brainer! If walking is more important than forgiveness, then it will benefit us while we are alive, say to the average age of 85 and yet still be spiritually troubled. If we believe that we have a future beyond the grave and we are connected to God, then forgiveness is important. This will benefit us beyond our 85 years and into eternity but can also make our lives a daily struggle. This is a constant human dilemma with a host of constraints. Jesus had no constraints, he did both, this was his mission. These acts showed those hostile bystanders, who he was and that he could heal both spiritual and physical sides of a person. To the bystanders listening, 

The Great Lent is a special annual time in a Christian’s life. It is an inner journey and our church is asking us to spend some time in reflection, forgiveness, mercy, healing, and going to the sacraments and in particular penance (forgiveness). It is reflecting a new life ahead. Every year we may fall away from our Christian heritage and every year we are asked to have another look at ourselves to physically try, to break the paralysis of the same traps of behavior. God is so merciful he constantly waits for us to return to him. Forgiveness and renewal of relationships and reconciliation is a strong human desire, and placing our faith in God, who is a constant, is a way to do this, but we must be participants and show signs of wanting to be healed, to be forgiven, otherwise, we run the risk of continuing to be paralyzed.