Read Genesis 22:1-19, Ps. 116:1-6,8-9, Matthew 9:1-8

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’” (Matthew 9:2)

In our first reading, Abraham went to the extent of tying Isaac to the wood pile because he believed God could give him more sons. Meanwhile, in our Gospel passage, four men opened the roof to present a paralytic to Jesus because they believed Jesus could cure him. The question is: “What do my actions say about my faith?” Some lessons in today’s readings include:

One, God sometimes puts us to the test. All those whom God called at some point experienced testing. By asking his disciples to cross the sea at night, Jesus tested their faith. Jesus experienced temptation (testing) in the wilderness at the beginning of His public ministry. He suffered the same at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Tough times come to good people. Do not assume your righteousness exempts you from testing. As St. Paul says: “We rejoice in our sufferings (testing, temptations etc.), knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Going through a tough time? Remain steadfast. Don’t give in to sin. Don’t give up on God.

Two, God rewards our faithfulness. Just as God provided Abraham with a ram for the sacrifice, God has a way of providing for us when we least expect it. If you do not give up on God, He will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Three, we can never hide anything from God. Even the thoughts in your heart are deafening in the ears of God. The Pharisees questioned in their hearts if Jesus could forgive sins, but to prove that He is God, Jesus openly asked why they were thinking such thoughts.

Four, physical healing builds on spiritual healing (forgiveness of sins, repentance, reconciliation with God). Jesus could see that the paralytic needed healing, but He began by saying: “Take heart, my son. Your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew concludes today’s Gospel passage in this way: “When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.” (Matthew 9:8). Just as the Pharisees did not believe Jesus could absolve this man of his sins, there are many Christians today who doubt the power of sacramental confession.

They ask: “How can I confess my sins to my fellow human being?” They forget that the same authority that was at work in Jesus Christ is now at work in the ordained ministers. In John 20:21-23, we read: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he said this, he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, free me from faithlessness and sinfulness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of week 13 in Ordinary Time, Bible Study: Genesis 22:1-19, Ps. 116:1-6,8-9, Matthew 9:1-8).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu