bible blog 1347

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headine from world news:

POLES REMEMBER SOLIDARITY VICTORY OVER COMMUNISTS IN 1989  Matthew 9:1-8

Solidarity Poster

Solidarity Poster

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus heals in his own town

1-2 So Jesus re-embarked on the boat, crossed the lake, and came to his own town. Immediately some people arrived bringing him a paralytic lying flat on his bed. When Jesus saw the faith of those who brought him he said to the paralytic, “Cheer up, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”

3-8 At once some of the scribes thought to themselves, “This man is blaspheming”. But Jesus realised what they were thinking, and said to them, “Why must you have such evil thoughts in your minds? Do you think it is easier to say to this man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’? But to make it quite plain that the Son of Man has full authority on earth to forgive sins”—and here he spoke to the paralytic—“Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” And the man sprang to his feet and went home. When the crowds saw what had happened they were filled with awe and praised God for giving such power to human beings.

paralysed_man-766343Does this story assume that the man was being punished for his sins with paralysis? No, it assumes that in the context both the paralysed man and the crowd would think so. Of course like other people the man will have sinned, so Jesus, acting in accordance with his role as God’s human agent, announces his forgiveness. Matthew notes that Jesus responds to the faith of the man’s friends, who trust that the the new age is dawning and that Jesus can heal the man. The “Son of Man” is a phrase from the book of Daniel which describes the “holy ones of God” who will rule the new age. Jesus seems to have used it to describe his -and his followers’- role as a God’s agent. The crowd appears to understand that God’s healing compassion is given not only to Jesus but in principle to men and women. The tradition of Jesus’ healings, because it has been a point of debate about “miracles” has often been misinterpreted. Even if the gospel writers saw Jesus’ healings as “acts of power” they are specifically acts of helpfulness to ordinary people in a Palestinian backwater. If they are indeed signs of God’s goodness in the world, they point to God’s concern for the bodily welfare of the littlest and the least. This passage hints that they are meant to be models for human action.  Until 1948 in the U.K it was assumed that only richer persons should have access to proper medical care. The poor could not afford it. They were probably poor by their own fault (“sinners”), it was reckoned. In spite of the goodwill of many doctors, who offered free treatment to those who could not afford it, millions of poor people suffered and died unnecessarily. The establishment of the National Health Service, by which medical care was made available free at the point of need, was as good an  image of Jesus’ mission as it was of socialist ideals. Many people then and since have thanked Giod for giving this power to human beings. There is an article in today’s Guardian by a 91 year-old veteran of D Day, who remembers his dying sister being taken to the Poors’ House and buried in a pauper’s grave. He says he cannot

delivered to every house in UK 1948

delivered to every house in UK 1948

understand modern politicians who might carelessly throw away the miracle of free health care.

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