“And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, ‘Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Luke 5:21)
Since the beginning of Advent, our readings have particularly shown us that the coming of Jesus in human flesh is the best thing that ever happened to mankind. The good news of Christmas is that God cares deeply for us and He would never abandon us to sorrow, captivity, sin and misery.
Isaiah tells us in our first reading: “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. (Isaiah 35:3-6)
These beautiful words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled in today’s Gospel passage: Jesus was in a house teaching and suddenly he felt the power of God within him to heal. Behold at that same time, four men assisted their paralytic friend to get to Jesus through the roof of the building. Jesus cured the man’s paralysis physically and also gave him a complete dosage of healing by forgiving his sins.
In truth, every sin is worse than physical sickness and unless we deal with sin, we leave room for more sickness. In this incidence, Jesus shows us that being cured physically without redemption from sin is only half treatment. Jesus also proves His Divinity because only God is capable of forgiving sins. However, the scribes and Pharisees around us, unable to recognize the Divinity of Jesus Christ took offence at Jesus’ action.
While we celebrate God’s goodness to us at Christmas, it is important to remind ourselves too that amongst us are “brood of vipers.” Who are these brood of vipers? They come in various forms and take on different roles, they are persons who are never happy to see good things coming our way. For instance, the scribes and the Pharisees who could not rejoice to see the paralytic freed from a life of dependency and pain are examples of the brood of vipers.
A person who cannot be happy at the fortunes of another has a serious problem. A person who is always out to criticize and find faults in everything and in everyone has a serious problem. A person who finds it difficult to praise God but complains all the time has a serious problem. What is this serious problem? It is the sickness of the brood of vipers! Watch out when you begin to become too critical lest you miss Christ this Christmas. Everyone was happy because they saw God in human form, the brood of vipers were sad because, for them, it was just a man speaking blasphemy!
Today also, we remember St. Ambrose, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, the great defender of the true faith whose teachings were so powerful as to bring about the conversion of St. Augustine to the Catholic faith.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to recognize you in those I meet this Christmas. Free my heart from negativity, teach me to wish others well and use me as your instrument of joy and peace to the world. Amen.
Bible Study: Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 85:9-14 and Luke 5:17-26).