USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew,
After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
“Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
Good News Reflection: Overcoming obstacles
What obstacles seem insurmountable in your life? Or scary? Or at least extremely annoying?
In today’s first reading, the prophet Amos was told to quit doing God’s work: Get out or shut up. Yet he had a mission to do; he knew that he’d been sent by God. Should he worry about the reaction he was getting and turn away from his assignment? No, of course not. He should listen to God and obey him no matter what the personal cost. And that’s exactly what he did.
Look at the obstacles faced by the paralytic in today’s Gospel reading. A more detailed description of this event is given in Luke 5:17-26. The crippled man needed a healing, but his first obstacle was his disease. He could not get to Jesus by himself. So, he accepted the help of his friends. He accepted their rather bizarre method of solving the problem. Was he worried about what others would think if he let his friends chop up a roof that didn’t belong to them? No, all that mattered was getting to Jesus, regardless of any obstacles.
How often do we remain in misery because we don’t feel comfortable accepting help from others? Or because we don’t like their methods? How readily do we give up because the task seems impossible or the dream unrealistic? How stuck are we behind regulations and policies that in general are good but now they’re hurting an individual?
If the task or the dream is a calling from God, no obstacle is insurmountable. It merely requires innovation and determination! The paralytic’s friends thought “outside the box” of what’s familiar and comfortable and acceptable. In doing this, they faced the most intimidating obstacle of all. It’s the same obstacle that Amos faced. Jesus faced it, too, when he forgave the man of his sins in front of the critical eyes of the scribes. “What will people think of me? Will they disapprove?”
The paralytic’s friends were about to damage someone else’s property. Would they be stopped by people who were more concerned about the value of the house than the value of the man?
The most important question is: What did God want them to do? When you face the disapproval of others, how does Jesus feel about you? Does he approve of what you’re doing? That’s all that really matters!
We cannot face obstacles alone, at least not well. We all need a support group of Holy Spirit-filled friends who will help us identify what’s paralyzing us and will carry us forward when we’re too weak to move on our own. We need friends who will help us discern God’s will and find innovative ways around obstacles. We need prayer partners who are not afraid of the consequences of obedience. Do you belong to a community like this? If not, get over the obstacles that are keeping you from it.
Obstacles are really just illusions, not the end of the path. They are merely tests of our determination to move forward with God.
Lord: May my faith open the way to the wonders You want to work in me and in the people around me. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica