Read 1 Samuel 8:4-7,10-22, Ps. 89:16-19, Mark 2:1-12

“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:4-5)

Whether we like it or not, failure is part of our lives. The beauty of the morning is only appreciated after witnessing nightfall. Even the most celebrated people on earth experience failures. What matters is knowing how to manage failure – knowing how to get up stronger after a fall. Our readings today contain some important lessons on how to manage failure.

1. Identify the Mistake: Do not be carried away by the emotions surrounding the situation (such as pain, loss, anger, grief, etc.). After suffering such a huge defeat in battle, the Israelites failed to identify their sinfulness as the root cause of their fall. They turned their anger towards God, thinking that God had become powerless.

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus forgave the paralytic's sins before attending to his paralysis to teach us that we cannot eat our cake and still have it. A lot of our physical problems are manifestations of spiritual ones.

2. Own the Mistake: Take responsibility for the situation. Even if you are not involved, blame yourself. Ask these questions: “What if it is my fault that so and so happened? Where did I go wrong? What should I have done better?” These questions are particularly helpful if you are determined not to repeat the mistakes of others.

3. Do not Repeat Others’ Mistakes: In today’s first reading, the people of Israel met Samuel demanding a king: “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways.” This means that Samuel failed to raise his sons to fear God, just as Eli failed with Hophni and Phineas. It is easy to point fingers or laugh at others when they fall, but your fall will be greater if you fail to point fingers at yourself.

Pay attention to the proper upbringing of your children. Success without a successor is a common failure. Perhaps this is one argument for celibacy in the Catholic Priesthood today. The demands of full-time ministry may not afford one the time to train their children in the way they should go.

4. Avoid Inferiority Complex: Samuel tried to identify all the negative aspects of having a king to discourage the elders, but at this point, they were too angry to listen. They said: “We will have a king over us so that we also may be like all the nations.” In moments of failure, we tend to look down on ourselves, our efforts, our religion, or what we have. Stop trying to be like everyone else. You have a unique destiny. If God allowed you to fail, it is for a purpose. Identify the mistake and stop blaming God.

The religious leaders who witnessed the miracle felt Jesus was blaspheming by forgiving the sins of the paralytic. They looked down on Jesus because he looked “too ordinary” in their eyes to be God. Do not look down on yourself, and do not look down on any human being.

5. Do not Give Up: Failure is an obstacle. Turn your failures into stepping stones lest they become roadblocks for you. Think out of the box and try again. In today’s Gospel passage, the men carrying the paralytic met an obstacle – they couldn’t go through the door due to the crowd. Instead of turning back, they found a way to get to Jesus through the house's roof. Jesus was impressed not just by their resilience but also by their faith.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, may my prayers always please you. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of week 1 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Samuel 8:4-7,10-22, Ps. 89:16-19, Mark 2:1-12).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu