The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Thursday of the 13th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 9:1-8.

Having demonstrated His dominion over the Creation by the calming of the storm and the casting out of demons in pagan lands (Matt 8:23-34), Christ returns to His home city (Capernaum in Galilee) and publicly displays His authority in the New Covenant by boldly forgiving sins and a by miraculous healing.

Surrounded by a large crowd, some men with great faith carry a paralyzed man on a bed to Christ, hoping for a miraculous physical healing. Seeing their faith, Christ stuns the crowd by first focusing on the paralyzed man’s spiritual ills by forgiving his sins; this prefigures the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The scribes, experts in Jewish law, unaware that Jesus is God, silently condemn Him of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death; the Old Covenant dictated that sins could only be forgiven through the sacrificial system of the Temple.

Able to read men’s souls, Christ bluntly rebukes the scribes for their evil thoughts. To prove He indeed has the authority to forgive sins, Christ publicly proclaims to be the Son of Man (the long-awaited Messiah) and miraculously heals the paralytic, who rises, picks up his bed and goes home. Shocked into holy fear, the crowds spontaneously glorify God and marvel that Christ has been given authority by God to forgive sins and miraculously cure the incurable.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of Man, Christ boldly and courageously proclaims His identity and forgives sins, knowing He will be accused of blasphemy and eventually be killed. Divine Priest, Christ lays the foundation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Divine Mercy, Christ has the power and compassionate will to forgive sins.  Divine Physician, Christ has the knowledge and power to know the inner thoughts of men and to miraculously heal devastating illness.  Divine King, Christ publicly rebukes the evil and erroneous thoughts of the well-educated scribes.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Despite trillions of dollars spent on modern medical technology, it is unusual for the paralyzed to be healed. Reread today’s Gospel, imaging that you are present when Christ, in His Divine Mercy, miraculously heals the paralytic. Be awed by the Divine Physician (CCC 1503-1505).

2) Today, sin is ignored, explained away, accepted with cowardly false mercy, or even celebrated with pride. Christ does none of the above; Christ first identifies sin (“Your sins…”) and then forgives it (“…are forgiven.”). Review the Catechism’s primer on Sin (CCC 1846-1876) and ask Christ to help you confront your own sins in a thorough Examination of Conscience.

3) Though overlooked, the phrase, “…God who have given such authority [to forgive sins] to men”, is the recognition of Christ [God] giving the Apostles [men] the authority to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Give thanks that Christ gave the unique authority (no other “church” can forgive sins) of the Church to Forgive Sins (CCC 1461-1467) and make it an urgent priority receive Christ’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently