Who But God?

(Homily for Seventh Ordinary Sunday, Year B)

A popular myth about Jesus runs along these lines: The original Jesus was a kindly man who wanted to help people face their problems, feel good about themselves and get along with each other. (Kind of a first century version of Oprah’s Dr. Phil.) But his followers began to add miracle stories to this teaching, then gradually divinize him until finally Paul developed a full blown theology which made him into God.*

Today’s Gospel explodes that myth. By almost all scholarly accounts, St. Mark wrote the earliest Gospel. It is certainly the plainest, the most unadorned. Yet right at the outset we have a strong assertion of Jesus’ divinity: He forgives men’s sins.

That seems innocuous enough to us, but only because we have forgotten what sin is. Suppose the man lowered through the roof was a swindler who had cheated locals out of their life savings. If you were one of the victims, sorry as you might feel about the man’s present condition, you would still resent Jesus’ absolution.

It would be as if I ministered to a serial killer and announced, “I forgive you.” Family members of those murdered would react quite bitterly. In my case their anger would be justified.

However, with Jesus, the matter is different. Robbery and murder offend him more directly than even the victims. He is the very Source of life and of all created goods. The people were right to ask:

“Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mk 2:7)

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*Although the letters of Paul come toward the end of the New Testament, they are not, as this myth supposes, the last written. On the contrary, they are the first writings. His Letter to the Thessalonians (c. 52 A.D.) is the earliest New Testament text.

Versión Castellana

From the Archives:

Seventh Sunday, Year B, 2012: An Agressive Attempt to Deny Sin
2009: No Forgiveness for Darwin
2006: Forgiveness of Sins and Communion
2003: Who But God?
2000: Your Sins are Forgiven - Go Home

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Liturgical Changes, Bequest, Samwise)

Financial Report (July 1 - December 31, 2002)

Announcements

Simple Catholicism (New! Thanks to my niece Sara Bloom)

Pictures from Peru (Portrait of my mom, third anniversary Mass - January 27, 2003)

Pictures from Wedding of Lucho & Luz (January 31, 2003; Puno, Peru)

Can you help this man? Peruvian Burn Victim, Fidel Quezada Borda:

SMV Bulletin

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I invite you to join me in signing National Petition to Stop HHS Mandate. My concern is not so much that this Mandate will harm the Catholic Church. We have had plenty of experience with overreaching civil authorities - and, by resisting, we have come out better. The Church will survive this attack. As an American, however, I worry what this and other encroachments on religious liberty will do to our nation. Religious liberty is the foundation for our other freedoms.

SMV Bulletin

A Child Who Needs Your Help

(Mary Bloom Center in Peru, February 2012)

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish

I invite you to join me in signing National Petition to Stop HHS Mandate. My concern is not so much that this Mandate will harm the Catholic Church. We have had plenty of experience with overreaching civil authorities - and, by resisting, we have come out better. The Church will survive this attack. As an American, however, I worry what this and other encroachments on religious liberty will do to our nation. Religious liberty is the foundation for our other freedoms.

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