GREGORY PALAMAS. SECOND WEEK OF FASTING – Homily by Metropolitan Jonah

Biblical Readings Heb 1:10-2:3      Mk 2:1-12

“A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum, and the news spread that He was at home. 2 So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door. Jesus was preaching the message to them. 3 When four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. 4 Because of the crowd, however, they could not get the man to Him. So, they made a hole in the roof right above the place where Jesus was. And they left the man down, lying on his mat. 5 Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralyzed man. My son, your sins are forgiven. 6 Some teachers of the Law who were sitting there thought to themselves. 7 How does he dare talk like this? This is blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins! 8 At once Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He said to them, why do you think such things? 9 Which is easier to say to this paralyzed man. Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up, pick your mat, and walk? 10 I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. So, He said to the paralyzed man: 11 I tell you, get up, pick your mat, and go home! 12 While they all watched, the man got up, picked his mat, and hurried away! They were all completely amazed and praised God saying: We have never seen anything like this”.

We are in the second week of Fasting, in Great Lent. According to the lesson of the last Lord’s Sunday, our fasting activities must be extended from the edible to other material things. That is to reduce the accumulation of treasures of this world, which are to be left here on earth, as temporary materials. Instead, we should struggle to attain heavenly riches, the spiritual requirements of our nature, which are eternal and remaining with us forever. We should fight against the vice of greediness, which is accompanied with many evils, like cheating, stealing, murder and others.

Compare the gospel passage of today with Mt 9:2-8 and Lk 5:18-26. Close to the lake of Galilee, the Capernaum town had become the base of activities of Jesus Christ. Probably, the Lord was staying in the house (home) of Simon Peter. Around this house, the large crowd of people had gathered, expectant of the heavenly message for life on earth, and the healing of their illnesses. But some people of them all had come for curiosity and rivalry to the message. These were not impressed by anything related to virtues of repentance and faith. They had their earthly calculations, thinking maliciously: “How does he dare talk like this? This is blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins”!

At once Jesus Christ knew what they were thinking. So, He said to them, why do you think such things? Truly, God is the only one who can forgive sins. But what is the easier to say to this paralyzed man, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up, pick your mat, and walk? In the earthly context, it is easier to say, your sins are forgiven! Because, in this earthly context no one can see how the sins are (spiritually) forgiven. For that is a hidden side, a spiritual side. But it was and still is difficult to say, Get up, pick your mat and go home! Because, every one in the earthly context is able to observe these activities: A paralyzed man to stand up, put his bed on his back, and walk hurriedly going home!  

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