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Youth Ministry Resources - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B: Mark 2:1-12 - The Son of Man forgives sins - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The fame of Jesus as a preacher and healer has grown so much that the house he goes to in Capernaum is besieged by people anxious to see him, hear him and be healed by him. Palestinian houses were erected with a front room covered by a roof made of wooden beams covered by thatching and mud and it was in this room that Jesus was seated preaching God's word and demanding repentance.

When the four men who were carrying the paralysed man approached the house and saw that the normal approach or entry was barred by the sheer number of people they were not to be diverted by this impediment to their plans. So committed were they to helping the paralysed man that they were inventive enough to open the space above the head of Jesus so that they could lower the stretcher.

Jesus was clearly very impressed by their commitment and praised their faith that was the impetus of their ingenuity. It was then that Jesus shocked everyone by declaring "my child, your sins are forgiven" - 'blasphemy' in the eyes of the scribes and many onlookers but look also at the love in that statement - my child, indicates that initially Jesus looked upon the paralysed man with love and then forgave his sins.

Yes, only God can forgive sins and that is why Jesus shocked so many when he provided the first healing the paralysed man needed - the healing only available through the forgiveness of sins. This healing is less visible than a physical healing but is central to the well being of any person.

The power of Jesus is in full flight when he not only forgives sins but then tells the man to "get up, pick up your stretcher and go off home" Jesus heals by word alone and we hear that "ALL were astounded and praised God" and what is exhilarating and spine-tingling for us is that same power to heal is available at any time we choose to connect with God.

We might not be paralysed in our body but we are paralysed by our sin, our paralysis is less visible but just as real and it can turn us away from God and into selfish, overbearing, dictatorial, self-righteous, resentful, angry, unhappy people - the complete opposite to what God intends for us to be and that is why we can approach God with the same conviction, commitment and faith as the stretcher bearers described in the Scriptures. Each of us can be cleansed and made whole by that same love encapsulated in the statement "my child, your sins are forgiven".

Cate Mapstone

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus speaks rather strongly about how we should treat others in today's Gospel. At first glance it might appear as if Jesus is expecting Christians to be compliant and accept abuse. It is helpful to remember that the people Jesus was addressing were people whose homeland was occupied by a vicious foreign power. At any time Jews could be asked to carry heavy items for Roman soldiers for one mile. To disconcert the oppressor, Jesus suggests that they then offer to carry the items for another mile. When they are slapped across the face, Jesus suggests they turn the other cheek because it would mean that the Romans had to treat them as an equal and punch them.

When we are confronted by someone who will oppress us we usually see two choices, one is flight and the other is to fight. Jesus offers a third way, that of non-violence. Along with many saints, we have seen the power of non-violence lived out in the modern world by Ghandi, Mandella (once he rejected terrorism) and Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. Jesus is teaching us how to take on a fundamental attitude, an attitude where we would be prepared to be vulnerable to a degree of foolish by the standards of the world, because such vulnerability and generosity are part of the Basileia, or Kingdom of God.

The followers of Jesus were referred to as the "Reign of God" people because they worked to bring about this upside-down kingdom of reversed expectations. As God's Pilgrim People, Jesus questions whether we have been occupied by a vicious foreign power. Have we sold out to secularism, to consumerism, to selfishness? Jesus challenges us to consider how generous we are in our dealings with others. How readily do we condemn and judge others on very little information? We recognise it when the media scandalise and destroy reputations, but do we recognise it in ourselves? We pray to God because we know God is compassionate - how do we show that same compassion to those around us?

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time