Readings: Amos 7:10-17, Ps. 19:8-11, Matthew 9:1-8

“When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” (Matthew 9:8)

After showing Thomas his hands and his side, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29). To have faith in God is a blessing. Believing that God can solve your problem already gives you an advantage over others. Our readings today present us with examples of believers and non-believers. Where do you belong? Are there benefits to holding on to our faith amid life’s challenges today?

- Inspired by their faith, some persons brought a paralysed man to Jesus. Matthew reports that Jesus ‘saw’ their faith. This means faith in God is visible in our actions before or after praying. A certain village experienced drought for some years. The elders met and decided the entire village would gather in the market square on a certain day to pray for rain. As they were about to begin the prayer, they noticed that only one little girl came with an umbrella. They had all come to pray for rain, but only this girl was expecting rain. God sees our hearts. It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in prayer; you can only get what you expect.

- Upon seeing the paralytic, Jesus said: “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Why did Jesus absolve him of his sins first? Can we say the paralytic’s condition was a punishment for his sins? Perhaps he needed forgiveness before he could be free of his physical condition. Or was Jesus only trying to prove to those present that He had the power to forgive sins? Whatever the case, the message in this statement is that healing begins with reconciliation with God. Repent, allow God to take possession of your heart, and you will feel His power in your body.

- While the friends of the paralytic made their faith visible, the scribes at that gathering felt that Jesus was blaspheming. For them, Jesus was a man trying to make himself equal to God. These scribes dared not voice their thoughts, but Jesus could hear them. We may pretend about our faith, but we cannot fool God; He knows when our presence in the Church is a formality. This underscores the importance of genuine faith, validating your true beliefs and actions. 

- Since these scribes did not believe in Jesus, what were they doing there? Not everyone who comes to Church intends to worship God. Like these scribes, many come to find what they can use against us. Many come to cause disaffection, spread false rumours and ultimately destroy God’s work. This is why Jesus said that on the last day, many would come saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us, we did this and that in your name, and He would say, ‘I do not know you.’” (Cf. Luke 13:25-27).

- If these scribes were doubting Jesus, the fact that He could tell the contents of their minds should have been enough proof of His divinity. Jesus asked the scribes a simple question which we must address to ourselves: “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Why do I prefer accommodating negative thoughts in my head? Why do I assume that God cannot (or is not interested in) solving my problems? Why do I feel that my situation can only get worse? To underestimate God or to belittle God’s power is to think evil in your heart. Do not be a pessimistic Christian. God is all-powerful and all-loving even when you don’t feel it. He has not stopped being God.

- Another dimension of thinking evil in our hearts is what we find in today’s First Reading. In the time of Amos, there was a man called Amaziah who claimed to be a priest, but because he fed from the king’s table, he lacked the courage to speak truth to power. Instead of facing the truth, he turned to attack Amos. Do I attack my colleagues because they are better than I am? Do I wish evil on others because their righteousness exposes my darkness? Like the scribes who followed Jesus, hoping to pull Him down, Amaziah knew the truth but preferred darkness; he had sold his soul in exchange for material comfort. Ultimately, Amaziah, the priest, received curses for being a source of scandal to those who still believed in God. (Cf. Matthew 18:6)

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, free us from faithlessness regardless of our circumstances. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God’s abundant blessings be upon us all. (Thursday of week 13 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Amos 7:10-17, Ps. 19:8-11, Matthew 9:1-8).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu