Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 30, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In the ancient world, people viewed illness as a punishment from God for sin, so it was natural for Jesus to make the connection between the forgiveness of sin and physical healing. In our own time, of course, we do not believe God works this way, so what are we to make of the story? The scribes accuse Jesus, at least accuse him in their own minds, of blasphemy when Jesus says the sins of the paralytic are forgiven him. Ultimately, however, Jesus reduces the scribes to silence when he changes his formula from the forgiveness of sin to a command that the paralytic stand up and walk. For the paralytic does just that. Jesus proves his power to forgive sin in an equation where he demonstrates his power to heal broken bodies. All of us are broken in some way, perhaps physically, perhaps spiritually, perhaps both, but the Lord is able to heal us whether we are not whole in either body or soul. It is for stories like the one that we read today that we should be confident in the Lord’s power to heal us no matter what wounds we bear.

Saint of the day: Today is the memorial of the first Martyrs of Rome. The Roman Christian community is testimony to the rapidity with which the early Christians carried the gospel with them. There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in a.d. 57-58. The explanation for this early Christian community in a distant city likely resulted from the frequent travel between Jerusalem and the capital of the empire and the fact that there was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’s death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.

In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims. Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.

Spiritual reading: Think what the world could look like if we took care of the poor even half as well as we do our bibles! (Dorothy Day)

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