The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 2:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2016

Mar 2:1 And again he entered into Capharnaum after some days.

And again he entered Capharnaum (Capernuam). Probably when the recent ex citement had calmed down.

into Capharnaum. St Matthew adds His own city. Nazareth was His
native town, but Capharnaum was frequently His dwelling-place during His public life, and this would naturally be considered “His own city.” Doubtless when there, He often stayed in the house of St Peter.

After some days. These he had spent (outside of towns) in desert places (Mk 1:45), and in His ministrations elsewhere in Galilee.

Mar 2:2 And it was heard that he was in the house. And many came together, so that there was no room: no, not even at the door. And he spoke to them the word.
Mar 2:3 And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four.

It was heard, etc. Hence we may infer that our Lord had come back privately into Capharnaum.

Many came together. St Luke describes the crowd, And it came to
pass on a certain day, as he sat teaching, that there were also Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, that were come out of every town of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem (Lk 5:17).

No room, not even at the door. Our Lord would probably be in a
humble house, and the family room would be on the ground floor and
easy of access. The Orientals were accustomed to enter freely into each other’s dwellings.

the word. Jesus was preaching when the paralytic was let down at His feet. St Matthew and St Luke omit the following details which are peculiar to St Mark:

(a) The paralytic was carried by four
(b) There was a great crowd at the door
(c) They opened the roof.

Mar 2:4 And when they could not offer him unto him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof where he was: and opening it, they let down the bed wherein the man sick of the palsy lay.

uncovered the roof where he was. Oriental houses of the poorer classes have flat roofs. Large beams were placed across at intervals of several feet. Rough ceiling joists were fixed over these. A layer of small poles or brushwood, arranged close together, completed the framework. These three layers were covered with earth or gravel, on which grass grew or flowers were cultivated. Sometimes slabs of stone were placed next to the joists instead of brushwood. The
layer of earth was rolled flat and gradually hardened. Therefore the sick man’s friends would have had to get on to the roof by the outside staircase.

St Luke mentions that they went up upon the roof. They could uncover the roof by scraping away the earth or gravel, and by removing a few slabs or small poles and some of the joists, they could easily let the man down between the beams.

the bed wherein, etc. This was a common pallet or mat used by the poorest. It was just large enough for one person, and could be rolled up when not in use. This explains how the four bearers could let down the sick man either by holding the corners, if, as was usual, the rooms were not more than a few feet high, or by means of ropes. Such a bed could be easily carried away by one person.

Mar 2:5 And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

their faith, i.e. the faith of the bearers and of the sick man himself. The bearers showed their faith by their persistence in overcoming the obstacles which prevented them from approaching our Lord. The man showed his faith in allowing himself to be thus brought. He believed that our Lord could and would heal him. When God grants blessings to those for whom we pray, He rewards our prayer and faith as well as that of the person for whom we pray, but no grace can be received by one who does not ask or desire it, at least, implicitly.

Son. St Luke gives the word man here. St Matthew adds, be of good
heart (Mt 9:2). Our Lord thus showed His love, and animated the sick man’s confidence. Possibly the thought of his sins made the man sad.

thy sins are forgiven thee. The Jews believed that every temporal
calamity or affliction was sent as a punishment for sin, e.g. And there
were present at that very time some that told Him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (St Luke 13:1). Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (St John 9:3). Jesus, in remitting sin, was verifying St John the Baptist’s words. The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world (St John 1:29), and proving Himself to be the Christ since He exercised the prerogatives of the Messiah. Because his soul hath laboured, he shall see and be filled: by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and lie shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked : and he hath borne the sins of many and hath prayed for the transgressors (Isa 53:11-12) (see also Jer 31:34, Mic 7:18). None of the Prophets had ever absolved from sin. The sick man must have had true contrition for his sins and earnestly desired forgiveness, otherwise Jesus would not have absolved him.

Mar 2:6 And there were some of the scribes sitting there and thinking in their hearts:

some of the scribes …. thinking in their hearts: likewise the
Pharisees as we learn from St Luke 5:21. The Jews had already
determined to kill Him (St John 5:18), and the Scribes and Pharisees
were there as spies watching our Lord, that they might accuse Him to the synagogue. This is the first of the many conspiracies against our Lord.

Mar 2:7 Why doth this man speak thus? He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only?

blasphemeth. By asserting a power which God alone has, viz., that of forgiving sins. To the Scribes who denied our Lord’s divinity, His
word seemed a breach of the second commandment.

Men are guilty of blasphemy

(1) When they speak against God or deny His attributes.
(2) When they ascribe these attributes to creatures.

Mar 2:8 Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts?

knowing in his spirit. It was by His divine Spirit that He read the thoughts of His enemies. He thus proved His divinity, and therefore
His power to forgive sins, for who can forgive sins but God alone? The prophets often knew things by God’s revelations, as when Eliseus (Elisha) convicted Giezi (Gehazi) of lying and disobedience, but Jesus needed no interior illumination (see 2 Kings 5:1-27, esp. 15-27). As God, all was open to Him. Under the new law by the Sacrament of Order, priests receive this divine mission of absolving sinners in God’s name, but under the old law, although the confession of certain sins was enjoined, the Jewish priest had no power to absolve.

Mar 2:9 Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed and walk?

Which is easier. It was easier, as regards convincing men of His divine power, to claim to forgive sins, than to restore a sick man to health, since no one could assure himself if the sins were really forgiven or not, whereas all could see a visible miracle of healing. To do the latter Jesus must be God, hence He could forgive sins.

Mar 2:10 But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (he saith to the sick of the palsy):

Son of man. This title is mostly found on the lips of our Lord Himself. The sacred writers rarely apply it to Him. It occurs fourteen times in St Mark’s Gospel. This same title is applied to the Messiah by Daniel 7:13, I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven. Jesus uses it to express His perfect humanity. It is also used by St Stephen, who, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). See also Rev 1:13, 14:14.

on earth. The Son of man on earth could forgive sins, as could the Son of God in Heaven.

power . … to forgive sins. Jesus forgave authoritatively and meritoriously. His priests absolve penitents ministerially.

Mar 2:11 I say to thee: Arise. Take up thy bed and go into thy house.

take up thy bed. The bed or mat was easily rolled up. This proved the man’s perfect cure, as a palsied man cannot even lift a cup to his lips.

Mar 2:12 And immediately he arose and, taking up his bed, went his way in the sight of all: so that all wondered and glorified God, saying: We never saw the like.

immediately. It was a sudden cure, not a gradual return to health ;
so it was in the case of the leper and of St Peter’s mother-in-law. This miracle was worked instantaneously, completely, and publicly.

in the sight of all. They now made way for him to leave.

all wondered. St Matthew gives, the multitudes …. feared and
glorified God (Mt 9:8), that is the common people, for the Scribes and Pharisees still refused to believe.

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