Daily Devotional for March 4-10
Mark 2:1-12: And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately[a] many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
From Venerable Bede: Who remits sin by those also to whom He has assigned the power of remitting, and therefore Christ is proved to be very God, for He is able to remit sins as God. The Jews then are in error, who although they hold the Christ both to be God, and to be able to remit sins, do not however believe that Jesus is the Christ. But the Arians err much more madly, who although overwhelmed with the words of the Evangelist, so that they cannot deny that Jesus is the Christ, and can remit sin, nevertheless fear not to deny that He is God. But He Himself, desiring to shame the traitors both by His knowledge of things hidden and by the virtue of His works, manifests Himself to be God. For there follows: And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? In which He shews Himself to be God, since He can know the hidden things of the heart; and in a manner though silent He speaks thus, With the same power and majesty, by which I look upon your thoughts, I can forgive the sins of men.
As a mother teaches her child to walk, so also God teaches us to have a living faith in Him. A mother will make the child stand, and leave it for a while by itself, then she will tell it to come to her. The child cries without its mother; it wants to go to her, but is afraid to attempt to move its feet; it tries to walk, makes a step, and falls down. God teaches the Christian faith in Him in a like manner (faith being the spiritual way); our faith is as weak, as elementary as the child beginning to walk. The Lord leaves the man without His help and gives him up to the Devil, or to various distresses and afflictions, and afterwards, when he is in extreme need of help of being delivered from them (for we are not ready to go to Him until we are in need of salvation), He bids us look on Him (we must absolutely look upon Him) and come to Him for that help.
Why does the Lord allow there to be poor? For your good, so that you may be cleansed from your sins and expiate them, “for alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin” ; so that you may win suppliants who will pray for you in the persons of those upon whom you bestow your charity, so that the Lord may be merciful to you. ” Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Why does the Lord allow people to be poor? For the same reason, amongst others, that He does not make you righteous all at once according to your wish. God might have made all men well off, even rich; but then a great forgetfulness of God would have arisen, and pride, envy, etc., would have increased. And you would have thought too highly of yourself had the Lord made you soon righteous. But as sin humbles you, showing you your great infirmity, impurity, and constant need of God and His grace, so likewise the poor man is humbled by poverty and his need of other people. If the poor were to be enriched, many of them would forget God and their benefactors, would ruin their souls in the luxury of this world. So destructive are riches, and so do they blind the spiritual vision! They make the heart gross and ungrateful!
It is well in every respect to give to the poor, besides obtaining mercy on the terrible day of judgment. Even here, while on earth, those who give alms often obtain great mercies from their neighbors, and that which others only obtain for large sums of money is given to them freely. Indeed, will not the Lover of mankind, the most-righteous and the most-bountiful heavenly Father, Whose children are compassionated by the merciful, reward them here also, in order to encourage them to still greater works of mercy, or to the continuance of their previous works of mercy, as well as to the amendment of the unmerciful, who mock at the merciful? He will reward them both worthily and righteously.
Why do we trouble and torment ourselves at not receiving some treasure which we had expected, or at losing it? Because that which we expected or which we have lost was the idol of our heart, because our heart has withdrawn itself from the Lord, the Source of living waters, Who Alone can fill and give peace to it. Let us cling to God with our whole heart, and no earthly loss, no non-fulfilment of the expectation of any earthly good–such as, for instance, money, marks of distinction, and others, which are outward and perishable things–will grieve us. Let us learn to live an inward life. Let us turn our thoughts to the highest blessings, to the heavenly recompense which is alone desirable, true, and makes those who obtain it truly happy.
Why are we so greedy after enjoyments, money, honours, dress, and various other things? All these are dead, perishable, transitory. The Devil, who has the power of death, is also incomplex, and catches us in his snares, wounding us unto death; this is why we must be on our guard, and not attach ourselves to anything, so that we may not be hurt by him. Avoid such a mode of life as tends to living for carnal motives and desires only; that is, only to sleeping, eating, dressing, walking, then again, to eating, drinking, and walking. Such a mode of life at last completely kills a man’s spiritual life, making him quite earthly, and a creature of the earth; whilst the Christian, even during his life on earth, ought to be heavenly. “For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  “Our Father, which art in heaven!” We ought to read the Word of God more frequently, pray more often at home and in church, and in every place, of course more inwardly than outwardly; to meditate more often on God…
Vain is our life–that is, vainly and for nothing, uselessly, to no purpose are the days of our lives, lost for eternity; we only care about earthly, worldly things, and think but little of eternity. We do not represent to ourselves the future terrible judgment, future torment, and future endless bliss. We all live in a kind of spiritual mist; the flesh and passions have overpowered us, whilst the spirit is oppressed, crushed, stifled. But “Behold! the Bridegroom” of our souls “cometh in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watchful; but unworthy is he whom He shall find cast down ” by worldly cares. “Beware then, my soul, lest thou be weighed down by sleep, lest thou be given over to death, and be shut out from the kingdom; but arise, and cry: ‘Holy, holy, holy, art Thou, O God! Through the Mother of God have mercy upon us'”