Daily Gospel Reflection: Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Bishop Robert Barron
January 12, 2024
Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Mk 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls Matthew to become his disciple.
Jesus gazes at this man and says simply, “Follow me.” Did Jesus invite Matthew because the tax collector merited it? Was Jesus responding to some hidden longing in the sinner’s heart? Certainly not. Grace, by definition, comes unbidden and without explanation.
In Caravaggio’s magnificent painting of this scene, Matthew responds to Jesus’ summons by pointing incredulously to himself and wearing a quizzical expression, as if to say, “Me? You want me?” The hand of Christ in Caravaggio’s picture is adapted from the hand of God the Father in Michelangelo’s depiction of the creation of man on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Just as creation is ex nihilo, so conversion is a new creation.
Matthew immediately gets up and follows the Lord. But where does he follow him? To a banquet! “While he was at table in his house . . .” is the first thing we read after the declaration that Matthew followed him. Before he calls Matthew to do anything, Jesus invites him to recline in easy fellowship around a festive table. As Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis comments, “The deepest meaning of Christian discipleship is not to work for Jesus but to be with Jesus.”