Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 309

Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened.

Our faith offers both assurance and challenge. We should "strive to enter through the narrow gate" and "be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains."
The Christmas seasons teaches us much about that, especially as it's played out in our frenetic world. This past season we had a full 28-day Advent with all the scripture readings that we might contemplate the promises of God. The Holy Day and its octave came with more readings and hymns and images and gestures -- "all the smells and bells" of the Season -- to give us a sense of our longings satisfied. 
When I pastored a parish I was just as reluctant as my parishioners to plan for anything in January. We just didn't want to think that we'd have to go into another year of work and sacrifice at the end of December. Let us just stay here, meditate and enjoy! 
But most of our neighbors, even by midday of the 25th, are saying "Happy New Year!" an expression that is banned after the second day of the year. In fact they often ask, "How was your new year?" though it's only two days old. (It can't be worse than 2016!)
Settling now in January and 2017 the scriptures again urge us to set out for the deep, as Pope Saint John Paul II said. 
We have been refreshed by six weeks of Christmas. We'll plunge into Lent in less than two months (March 1) but for the moment we prepare for what lies ahead. We need open minds and open hearts to think new thought and welcome new people. We must be free from fear lest we do something really stupid, as frightened people generally do. 
In today's gospel we watch and listen as Jesus forgives the sins of a paralyzed man, and then heals his paralysis. He knew perfectly well the reaction of the crowd around him, that some would doubt his authority to forgive; and then, seeing it demonstrated, they would go to war with him. 
He must have felt the fear just as his compassion embraced the poor fellow. Like you and me when we do the right thing, he had a choice but he had no choice. 
May the Lord guide our choices with the same eager generosity and courage throughout this new year.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.