A common term on Jesuit university campuses is being women and men that live out a “faith that does justice.” We use this phrase often as it is a cornerstone of our mission, yet what does that concretely mean us? How is this embodied in our everyday lives, choices, and vocations?
The Scripture passage Mark 2:1-12 exemplifies Jesus healing a paralytic who has been lowered through the roof by his friends. Accompanying this passage is an excerpt from Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Greg Boyle, S.J. In the same way that the four friends in Mark’s Gospel “ripped the roof off the house” to bring the outcast paralytic to the center of Jesus’ healing presence, Boyle shares about a church in Los Angeles that overcomes various obstacles to make room in their community for homeless immigrants. With the passage about the paralytic and Boyle’s excerpt as the basis for reflection, participants will be invited to consider how they have witnessed and are called to participate in healing through inclusion and kinship with those on the margins.
- Instrumental music
- Copies of the reading
- Papers with the journal questions and something to write with
Ask for the grace to receive and embody God’s healing presence in our lives and in our relationships.
Can you name a time this week when you showed compassion to someone else, or when someone showed you compassion?
Introduce the meeting to the group and explain that the following passage of Jesus healing a paralytic will frame the meeting. Invite the group to close their eyes and let the words sink into their hearts. After a brief moment of silence, begin reading the passage aloud and conclude with a brief prayer.
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a man who was paralyzed, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” Mark 2:1-12
Dear Jesus, in the same way that you saw the faith of the paralytic’s friends and healed him, we ask that you hear our own desires for healing in our lives and communities. Please give us the strength and courage to remove the obstacles that inhibit us and others from encountering your healing presence. Amen.
Hand out papers with the journal questions. Introduce the reflection by Greg Boyle, S.J. – a reading draws out the themes of the paralytic passage in a modern context. Encourage members to take notice of the images and words that move and/or challenge them. After the reflection, members will have the opportunity to spend time in quiet journaling before communal sharing.
Have someone read the excerpt aloud. You may want to hand out copies to all of the group members.
Invite members to take time to respond in reflection to the passage through utilizing the journal questions. Questions may be skipped if there is not resonance with any particular one. Members may also do a general free-write if they feel more moved to this. The most important thing is that each person is paying attention to the movements of their heart. You may want to play instrumental music while people write.
- Invite members to share. You can either go question by question, or let people share from whatever question around which they have the most energy.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
Pay attention this week for opportunities where you might be invited to respond with compassion. Take a step back and invite God into your response.
You can invite people to read or express the prayers that they journaled about earlier.
“Christ has sent us on a mission…we are to become identified with His mission of bringing the good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives and to the blind, new sight, setting the downtrodden free and proclaiming the Lord’s year of favor. Our life is essentially apostolic.” (CLC-USA General Principles #8)
“Each of us receives from God a call to make Christ and his saving action present to our surroundings. This personal apostolate is indispensable for extending the Gospel in a lasting and penetrating way among the great diversity of persons, places and situations.” (CLC-USA General Principles #8a)
“Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:1-3
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
“The Father who dwells in me does his works…Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.” John 14:10, 12