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Archive for April 20th, 2019


Mark 2: Paralysis

Holy Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saint Anne de Beauprés church in Quebec, Canada: Wall of discarded crutches

It is in this second chapter of Mark that we see the power of freedom against the power of restraint.  Jesus arrives in the world as an expression of God’s love for us to transform our paralysis into movement and even action.  This is no easy model for us to follow as we see him in constant collision with the nearly overpowering influence of the Jewish church and social framework.  Jesus speaks truth and mercy to corruption, jealousy and greed every day.  He does not relent. In the end, he is crucified and thought dead and out of the way in what appears to be a bitter irony.  Yet the beautiful inversion and paradox of the story of Christ is that he triumphs over his enemies by dying for them, by loving them more than they love themselves.

It is easy to read these stories of a man who lived two thousand years ago and smile at the authority and courage with which he moved through the world in a brilliant flash of compassion and simplicity: Love one another as I have loved you . . . child, your sins are forgiven.

It is another matter to follow this man and repeat his actions endlessly knowing that obstacles will be thrown in our path which will be impossible to circumvent: Follow me.

The secret to following Christ is to give ourselves over to him and accept his offer of newness:  No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak . . . no one pours new wine into an old wine skin.

We so often allow the familiar to govern our lives, even when it paralyzes us and prevents us from accepting what can be new about us.  We would rather dance with the devil we know than with the God we do not.  We prefer the dirge of a sadness known to us and reject the hope that the news we have heard from this God Among Us is true.  It is so strange to me that we would prefer our paralyzing fear and reject the freedom offered by the one who comes to forgive and heal: I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

When we are paralyzed by life, we must choose freedom offered by the Spirit.  When we are overcome by fear or sadness, we must give ourselves over to joy as we take the hand of the groom who comes to bring us to the feast: As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

During Lent we are accustomed to giving alms, making reparation and examining our motives and actions.  Perhaps this Lent we might begin to allow ourselves to dream of what we might do with the freedom we already possess . . . the freedom to allow ourselves to be healed of our paralysis and to follow Christ when he invites us into true and eternal union with God.

Imagine if we only had the courage and strength to . . . how do we want to finish this thought?  What chains do we yearn to throw off?

The possibilities are endless when we drop our crutches, when we put away our paralysis.


A re-post from March 6, 2012.

Image from: http://grandforet.blogspot.com/2009_05_01_archive.html 

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