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Monday, February 22, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 5:12–26

Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.” But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the one who was paralyzed—”I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.” (NRSV)

Two stories of healing. In both Jesus is very aware of the relationship of the institutions of the day to the needs of the people they served. In the first one, he tells the leper, “What happened, that’s between you, me, and God, OK? Just go do what you have to do to show gratitude.” Very modest, very self-effacing, yet still in touch with the laws and procedures.

In the second story, though, we see why he doesn’t look for the attention—because if the religious folk got into the middle of everything they’d just have a debate about whether he should be helping, and if so, how. Jesus wasn’t much for those debates, especially with a sick person lying in front of him.

“What are you saying? You’re OK with me saying ‘get up and walk,’ but not ‘your sins are forgiven?’ Why are his sins so important?” And he tells the man, get up, pick up your stuff, and go home. And the man does just that. And then Jesus did drop the mic and say unto them, “Boom!”

Well, he could have.

There’s a lot of talk these days about who deserves help and who doesn’t. There are a lot of politicians and pundits who are a lot more focused on merit than need and using the moving bar of their own judgment to invalidate the needs of others. Jesus still asks, which is more important, your supposed superiority or their need? And while you have your little debate, I’ll just keep working, because they’re the ones I’m here for.

Lord, none of us can ever meet the bar of your example, and yet you see to our needs. Remind us to show others the love we’ve been shown, without condition or restriction. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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