GET UP, PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK, SAYS THE LORD
(Thursday, July 04, 2019)
The readings today are about faith specifically faith in God's wisdom, healing power and forgiveness. In Genesis, God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son. Abraham demonstrates his faith and trust in God in his willingness to sacrifice everything for God. His faith is paradigmatic for all believers.
The first reading is one of the most puzzling, and to some, disturbing, passages in the Old Testament. Yet, its importance is attested by the fact that the Church has given it to us twice this year – once at the Easter Vigil, where it follows the creation story, and then again today. How are we to understand it? God had given Isaac to Abraham, a son born when neither Abraham nor Sarah was in the childbearing years. Isaac is Abraham’s only hope for the line of descendants – numerous as the sands – that God had promised him.
God asks Abraham to give him back, a request that Abraham interprets, in the culture of his time and place, to mean sacrifice. Sacrifices usually destroyed what was given – a libation poured out upon the ground, a precious calf or sheep killed and burned – which meant the giver could no longer use or benefit from them.
The story makes the point that Abraham was willing to do whatever God asked of him, and for many of us, the story might stop there. But the story tells us something even more important about God, something that connects with God’s gift of Jesus to humanity, and with Jesus’ own sacrifice. What the sparing of Isaac tells us is that God gives; God does not destroy. In the case of Isaac, God gave him back to Abraham, who had been willing to slay him. And in the case of Jesus, God gave Him back to us, in the Resurrection. This depth of God’s love is utterly incomprehensible. God so loved the world that He gave us His son (John 3:16). There are two miracles that take place in the healing of the paralytic in Matthew's Gospel, the actual physical healing that allows the paralytic to pick up his mat and walk, and the forgiveness of his sins. Both miracles require God's healing power.
However, since the scribes refuse to believe that Jesus has the power to forgive sins, He demonstrates a concrete manifestation of this power by physically healing the paralytic. Just as Jesus' love, compassion and forgiveness healed the paralytic, so too, they will heal us from all we are experiencing today be it spiritual and physical illness. what is required of us is strong faith in God. No one is excluded from Christ's healing power, neither the physically nor spiritually infirmed. Christ is telling us today, to pick up our mat and walk. Let us accept this Christ's command with faith.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me grace to serve you with faith and may your love be upon me always. Amen.