Homily for Jan. 14, Friday of the I Week of OT year I
Faith. Rest. Healing. Forgiveness. Listening to todays’ readings, these words can stand out for their importance and their connectedness.
The first reading tells us that if we want to “enter into God’s rest”, we must listen to His words with faith. Many people hear the Gospel and do not profit from it, because they do not believe. Any of us can have a difficulty believing sometimes; Jesus and His Church make some claims that can be counterintuitive, or hard to accept because of the practical inconveniences they imply. But even though some aspects of our faith may feel like a burden at times, that is far outweighed by knowing it is for our good, and by God’s promise of “entering into His rest”.
The Gospel shows us two ways in which Jesus gives us rest in response to our faith, by the way in which He treats the paralytic. The first thing He does when He sees the faith of the people is forgive the man’s sins. That’s really the most important kind of rest we can receive. When our conscience is hurting us because we have sinned, it’s worse than physical suffering. All illness and physical pain in this life will eventually cease, but the pain of guilt can last for all eternity if we do not have God’s forgiveness – and guilt for our sins can bring us the all-encompassing pain of Hell. But God has given us the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. If we only believe and repent, we can enter into His rest. That rest becomes everlasting when we join Him in heaven and are freed from the any danger of sin.
Jesus also wants us to have other kinds of rest when it is good for us; He heals the paralytic’s illness after He forgives his sins, and God grants us many other blessings that make our burden lighter. Let us thank Him today for the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation and for all the ways that He responds to our faith with the gift of rest from our worries and our trials. May we be His instruments in bringing rest to those most in need.