Lectio Divina: Luke 5:17-26
2nd Week of Advent
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
you come among Your people;
to those who are poor and paralyzed
You bring them Your forgiveness
and Your tender compassion
through Your Son Jesus Christ.
God, make us deeply believe
that You want to liberate us
from our discouragement and powerlessness.
Give us a sincere, trusting hope
in Your healing, compassionate love,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 5:17-26
Now it happened that He was teaching one day, and Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judea and from Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was there so that He should heal.
And now some men appeared, bringing on a bed a paralyzed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of Him. But as they could find no way of getting the man through the crowd, they went up onto the top of the house and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith He said, “My friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. “Who is this man, talking blasphemy? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, replied, “What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But to prove to you that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.'” And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
They were all astounded and praised God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
• Sitting down, Jesus taught. People liked to listen to Him. What was the theme of Jesus’ teaching? He always spoke about God, His Father, but He spoke in a new way which was attractive and different from that of the Scribes and the Pharisees (Mk 1: 22.27). Jesus represented God as the great Good News for human life; a God who loves and accepts people, and a God who does not threaten and does not condemn.
• A paralyzed man is brought by four men. Jesus is for them their only hope. Seeing their faith, He tells the paralytic: Your sins are forgiven you! At that time, people believed that physical defects (paralysis, etc.) were a punishment from God because of some sin committed. For this reason, the paralytics and many other disabled persons felt that they were rejected and excluded by God! Jesus teaches the contrary. The great faith of the paralytic was a sign that those who helped him were accepted by God. This is why Jesus declares: Your sins are forgiven you! That is: “God does not reject you!”
• The affirmation of Jesus did not coincide with the idea which the Doctors had of God. For this reason, they react: He is talking blasphemy! According to their teaching, only God could forgive sins. And only the priest could declare that a person was forgiven and purified. How could Jesus, in their eyes, a simple lay man, ever declare that the paralytic was forgiven and purified from his sins? And then, if a simple lay person could forgive sins, the doctors and the priests would have lost their function! This is why they react and defend themselves.
• Jesus justifies his action: Which is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven or to say, Get up and walk?. Evidently, for a man it is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven”, because nobody can verify or prove this fact. But if one says: “Get up and walk”, in this case everybody can see if He has or not this power to cure. For this reason, to show that, in the name of God, He had the power to forgive sins, Jesus says to the paralytic: “Get up and walk!” He cures the man! He uses the context of their beliefs, that the physical defect was from sin, to prove He has the power to forgive sins! He also shows that the paralysis is not a punishment from God because of sin, and shows that the faith of the poor is proof that God accepts them in His love.
4) Personal questions
• Placing myself in the position of those who helped the paralytic: Would I be capable to help a sick person, take him up to the top of the house and do what the four men did? Do I have such a great faith?
• What is the image that I have of God in myself and which radiates to others, that of the doctors or that of Jesus? A God of compassion or of threat?
5) Concluding Prayer
I will hear what God proclaims;
the Lord – for He proclaims peace to His people.
Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him,
glory dwelling in our land. (Ps 85)