The First Reading reminds us of the importance of obedience to God. It tells us the promise of entering God’s rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. God wants everyone to be saved. There is no question there. Yet, the Author tells us there is a possibility of failing to attain this salvation. The same Gospel was preached but some of those who heard it did not benefit from this, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. There is a difference between those who listened and those who did not. The Author continues: for we who believed enter that rest. Yes, God is merciful. Yes, he wants everyone to be saved. But it is an error to think that everyone WILL be saved, because clearly, Scripture says this is not the case. Only those who believe will enter the rest of God! Those who believe are identified by their obedience because the First Reading concludes: let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience. Faith is determined by obedience to God’s Word. Disobedience results in not entering the rest of God.
The Gospel shows us how the paralyzed man entered the rest of God. His four companions trusted that Jesus has the power to heal the paralyzed man. They were not able to enter through the front door, so they made every effort to bring the paralyzed man to Jesus, but removing the roof and lowering the paralyzed man down. Jesus shows us what happens when we enter his rest. Jesus told the man, Son, your sins are forgiven. Then Jesus told the man I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home. We are this paralyzed man. We cannot stand on our own. We may be paralyzed. But when we take every effort to come before Jesus, he will make us whole by forgiving our sins.
The paralyzed man stood up only when Jesus commanded him to do so. The first step to entering God’s rest is to be forgiven. But we are also expected to obey him. The paralyzed man would not have walked if he did not obey Jesus. He would have remained paralyzed even if Jesus commanded him. This shows that we also need to do our part to complete the will of God. To say I will do anything I want, since God will forgive me is naive and presumptuous. It is based on pride because we are saying God has to save me because I say so.
Many people pray to God in this pandemic, for healing, for help in their situation, for strength. This is good. But we cannot hear Jesus command us to stand up, take up your mat and go to your home, unless our sins are forgiven. Our sins are forgiven only when we admit them, and resolve to reject them. Unless we reject sin, we are rejecting God.
Lord, change my heart, so I may repent of my sins. I reject them as I turn back to you.