Homily on Mark 2:1-12
By Fr. John Parker
Today I proclaim to you the joyous news of two Prosphora—two gifts, two offerings. The first is a paralytic, lifted up. A man so paralyzed that, according to St. Mark’s accounting, he does not or cannot even offer his own faith. According to the Scriptures, four men came to Jesus (pherontes pros avton paralutikon) bearing up, offering up, gifting Him a paralytic. Borne up by the four, unable to approach directly because of the crowd, the paralytic is lowered into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the presence of the Word, and by His word, and through the faith of the four friends that the paralytic’s sins are forgiven, that the broken man is made whole, raised up, and that the man goes out—goes home, to show by his walking and skipping and jumping that Jesus Christ is the One who is, and who was, and who is to come.
This is the first prosphora, the first offering, the first gift.
The second prosphora, the second offering, the second gift, is also a broken man. And yet, not only a man, but God-made-man. It is our Lord Jesus Christ, also lifted up, and because of the crowd. Not causally in the sense that there were too many people, but causally in that we, the crowe, shouted out for Him to be lifted up: Crucify Him, Crucify Him! Raised up not onto a rooftop, but onto the cross. Broken not by sin, but by us sinners, and so providentially, for us sinners.
And once raised up, broken, dead, also lowered. Not only lowered from the tree, dead, but also descending Himself, as God, into another crowd: the Dead. And there, not for the forgiveness of His sins (He was and is sinless), not for His healing (He is the Great physician of our souls and bodies, indeed the healer of the paralytic), but for the forgiveness of our sins, for the healing and salvation of us who crucified Him in the first place.
And this One, also not left in the midst of the crowd, unable to move or help Himself; this one also raised up, on the third day. Raised from the dead; Resurrected. Trampling down death by death. And this one also showing Himself to many—many of whom, like the first man’s friends, glorified God (amazed), saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Though some doubted.)
And it is this prosphora, this offering, this Man, Jesus Christ, whose Gospel is up borne likewise by four men, four pillars, whose names we know: the Evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
It is by their testimony that we know these two prosphora, these to gifts, these two offerings. The first a shadow of the second, the paralytic fortelling and proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us paralytics also, broken and helpless, call on the Lord who is quick to save. And though we cannot lift ourselves, we can lift up those around us, by faith, with the sure hope of the Gospel, knowing the Almighty and Merciful God. And let us, like the four Evangelists, recount the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, not with parchment and pen, but with the love of God written by our deeds every moment of our lives. Amen.