7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Mark 2:1-12

The process of conversion is a mysterious one, even to the convert. No one but God knows all the factors and influences that go into a person’s conversion to faith in Christ. Even in a dramatic case like St. Paul’s in which the Lord directly intervenes, it is impossible to know what prepared Paul before that moment to accept the Lord’s appearance without hesitation. This is even more true of conversions that happen slowly, as many do.

One thing is sure: no one comes to faith in Christ without the help of others. Whether it is the parents who bring their child to baptism, or friends who influence someone toward the good, or a preacher who stirs the heart to repentance, every Christian has others to thank for his faith. And this is how God intended it. He created us as communal beings – made in His Trinitarian image, we are not complete except in communion with others. Our salvation is wrapped up in the fate of our fellow man.

We see this in today’s Gospel. The paralytic had four friends who cared deeply for him. They heard that the Nazarene preacher was in town and they desired healing for their friend. Even the great crowds that surrounded Jesus did not deter them; their desire to bring their friend to Jesus was so great that no human obstacle could dissuade them. After they brought their friend down through the roof, Mark states, “when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven’” (Mark 2:5). Note carefully whose faith sways Jesus to give absolution to the paralytic: not the crippled man’s, but his friends’ faith. Like Moses interceding for all of Israel, these men intercede for their friend and move the heart of our merciful God.

Our prayers for others therefore are not ineffectual – they really can have an impact on the lives of others. Again, our interconnectedness reflects our status as images of the Three-in-One God. No man is a solitary figure, striving for God without help. Each person instead is part of a greater body – the Body of Christ – which is serving and worshiping God together. In a very real sense we are therefore responsible for the salvation of others. Like the friends of the paralytic, we must be willing to overcome any obstacle in order to bring others to Jesus.
All Reflections



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