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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of the first martyrs of the Roman Church during persecution of Nero.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 9, 1-8

He got back in the boat, crossed the water and came to his home town.

And suddenly some people brought him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, 'Take comfort, my child, your sins are forgiven.'

And now some scribes said to themselves, 'This man is being blasphemous.'

Knowing what was in their minds Jesus said, 'Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts?

Now, which of these is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"?

But to prove to you that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins,' -- then he said to the paralytic-'get up, pick up your bed and go off home.'

And the man got up and went home.

A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for having given such authority to human beings.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus seems to be shuttling back and forth from one shore to the other in order to be present everywhere there is need. After he returns to Capernaum, they bring him a paralysed man lying on a stretcher and place him at the centre of the scene. It is not just the physical centre, but also the centre of attention, interest, and concern for that sick man. This scene shows us how much our attention for ourselves should give way to attention for the weak. In this way, the love of these friends is the beginning of the miracle. The evangelist invites us to notice this by affirming that Jesus decides to intervene when he "saw their faith." This time, however, before performing the healing, he speaks words that no one had ever spoken to the paralysed man before: "Your sins are forgiven." Jesus does not want to insinuate that the paralysed man’s illness was caused by his sins, but he knows that this is what the scribes think. In fact, physical illness was considered the direct consequence of one’s own sins or those of one’s parents. And so, understandably, the scene is transformed into a theological debate. When they hear these words, the scribes who are present think badly of Jesus, even if, perhaps out of fear, they don’t say so. Regardless, they think that Jesus’ words are blasphemy. Only God can forgive. In their opinion, there could be no forgiveness without the elimination of the physical illness. But Jesus, who can read people’s hearts, unmasks them and shows them how far his mercy goes. "Stand up," he says to the paralysed man, "take your bed and go to your home." The Lord performed a double miracle for that sick man: he forgave his sins, and he healed his paralysis. By doing so, he showed those who had questioned him that his forgiveness had the healing effect they were looking for. Thus, he showed that the one who heals both body and heart had come among men and women. We need him today, too. How many sick people and sinners do not know to whom to go? And how few are those friends who bring those who need healing and love to Jesus! Everyone needs to rediscover Jesus’ strength in healing both the soul and the body, just as Christian solidarity for the sick needs to grow. Don’t we need to rediscover the strength of praying for healing?

Memory of the Church