First reading Isaiah 35:1-10

The return of the redeemed through the desert

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,
let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,
let it rejoice and sing for joy.
The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it,
the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendour of our God.
Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.
‘Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;
for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.
The lairs where the jackals used to live
become thickets of reed and papyrus…
And through it will run a highway undefiled
which shall be called the Sacred Way;
the unclean may not travel by it,
nor fools stray along it.
No lion will be there
nor any fierce beast roam about it,
but the redeemed will walk there,
for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.
They will come to Zion shouting for joy,
everlasting joy on their faces;
joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.
 

Responsorial Psalm 84(85):9-14

R. (Isaiah 35:4f) Our God will come to save us!

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD –for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.

Gospel Luke 5:17-26

‘Your sins are forgiven you: get up and walk’

Jesus was teaching one day, and among the audience there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing. Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on to the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed man – ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’ And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
  They were all astounded and praised God, and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’
 
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God comes

 
“Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming…’” (First reading). The prophet Isaiah expressed his hope of God’s coming. Indeed, God is a God who comes not to punish us but to walk with us and gives us His strength to face the challenges that life brings.
 
In the person of Jesus, we see God who comes to be with us and that His presence brings restoration and new life to us. In the gospel, Jesus healed a paralysed man by saying, “My friend, your sins are forgiven you”. Jesus wanted the man to be free, not just from his physical impediment but also from his sins that prevented him from living life with freedom and joy. Let us be aware that God desires that we live life fully. He wants to free us from the hurt caused by broken relationships, a negative attitude that makes us quick to judge others, a fear that burdens us, etc. Let us draw close to God and ask Him to make us new again so that we can live life with freedom.
 
Reflective question:
What strikes me as I pray with today’s passages?
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year B” by Sr Sandra Seow FMVD.