Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8
I’ve never noticed before that this story takes place in Jesus’ home town. Maybe Jesus knows the paralytic, the people who bring him forward, or even the scribes.
Jesus once again silences those who would try to trick Him by simply telling the truth and revealing who He is and who God is – while always taking care of our physical, bodily, human needs first. Jesus – almost without exception – feeds or heals or cures first. He teaches or preaches only after our human needs are met. He knows us intimately. He knows how we function and what we are distracted by. So He gets those bodily needs out of the way first. He is the Master of the Works of Mercy. Jesus always uses the Corporal Works of Mercy to get to the very heart of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. And this is our task as well – to always seek to meet the corporal needs of others, and ourselves, before we can meet any spiritual need. We are created, equipped, and called to be relational. Like Jesus, to be people of encounter.
Jesus doesn’t make us choose between our sin and our healing. He simply desires to free us. From whatever binds us – physically or spiritually. Jesus is about restoration and freedom, not rules and regulations. Jesus will always do whatever we let Him to take care of our corporal needs, because He knows that will restore us – free us – to be able to receive the Good News and let Him do His spiritual works of mercy on us.
And then we are sent to do likewise. On this feast of St. Maria Goretti, we are reminded that some of Jesus’ words from this gospel might have been spoken to little Maria as she was dying, “Courage, child” and the second phrase might have been spoken by St. Maria to Alessandro: “…your sins are forgiven.”
How well do I seek to meet corporal needs of myself and others before attempting to meet spiritual needs? In what area of my life do I need to ask God for courage? Forgiveness?
Lord Jesus, help me to really seek You in others, especially the poor. Help me to know their needs and meet them. This is how I bring them and myself to you.
Copyright 2017 Colleen O’Dowd
Colleen O’Dowd is the Director of Youth Ministry at Holy Spirit Parish in Stevens Point, WI. She loves being Catholic, her Converse all-stars are always liturgically correct, and she is a super-saint-geek! She blogs very occasionally at ourheartswereburningwithin.wordpress.com and can also be found @catholiccolleen on Twitter and Instagram.