2019-03-17 Father Francois Beyrouti's Homily: "Perposterous"
Father François Beyrouti homily on Sunday, March 17, 2019.
Readings and homily text below.
Second Sunday of the Great Fast (Lent). The Holy Relics and St. Gregory Palamas.
Epistle. Hebrews 1:10-2:4. Gospel. Mark 2:1-12.
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Epistle. Hebrews 1:10-2:4.
You in the beginning, O Lord, did found the earth, and the heavens are works of your hands. They shall perish, but you shall continue; and they shall all grow old as does a garment, and as clothing shall you change them, and they shall be changed. But you are the same, and your years shall not fail (Ps. 101: 26-28). Now, to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool at your feet” (Ps. 109: 1)? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent for service, for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation? That is why we should all the more earnestly observe the things we have heard, lest perhaps we drift away. For if the word spoken by angels proved to be valid, and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? For it was first announced by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard it.
Gospel. Mark 2:1-12. Healing of the Paralytic.
At that time Jesus entered Caparnaum, and it was reported that he was at home. And immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even around the door. And he spoke the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four. And since they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was, and, having made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the Paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” Now some of the Scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man blaspheme in this way? Who can forgive sins, beside God?” And at once Jesus, knowing in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why are you arguing these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet, and walk’? But that you may know the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” ― he said to the paralytic ― “I say to you, arise, take up your pallet, and go to your house,” And immediately he arose and, taking up his pallet, went forth in the sight of all, so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, “Never did we see anything like this!”
Some things in life are preposterous.
Although we don’t use the word preposterous very often, related words to preposterous are: unreasonable, excessive, ridiculous, insane, or crazy.
A lawyer can use this word in court when he asks: “What proof do you have of your preposterous allegation?”
In Latin, praeposterus, means reversed. This word comes from two words, “prae,” which means before and “posterus,” which means after. Therefore, something is preposterous when we reverse and put before what should be after.
For example, it is preposterous to put on your shoes before you put on your socks. The right order is socks and then shoes. To reverse the pre (before) and the post (after) would be preposterous.
Also if you go to a buffet and start on the desert side, you would put before what should be after. This would be preposterous.
This may be obvious but it is difficult to put some things in the right order. For example, in relationships, often people focus on looks and intimacy before friendship, trust, and commitment. The he looks good/she looks good dynamic is not a good starting point if you can’t even have a reasonable discussion with someone. Relationships are week when we put before what should be after.
Today’s Gospel can be called preposterous on at least two levels. At the level of being ridiculous, the friends of the paralyzed man, could not bring him in through the door, so they lowered him in from the roof.
Mark 2:2 and 4 reads: “Many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door…and when they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.”
Everyone must have said, “This is insane and crazy. This is preposterous.”
But in today’s Gospel Jesus also does something that is preposterous. Everyone wanted Jesus to heal the paralyzed man, but instead Jesus forgives his sins: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven’ ” (Mark 2:5).
This is an example of putting first what should have come after. This is preposterous and the scribes complained: “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). They thought it was crazy that Jesus forgave the paralyzed man’s sins. And everyone thought it was crazy that Jesus forgave the man’s sins before he healed him.
Therefore, everyone agreed that Jesus acted preposterously.
But in this Gospel Jesus was not preposterous, everyone around him was preposterous for thinking that the body is more important than the soul. We all see each other externally first and often overlook what is happening on the inside. Jesus sees us on the inside first and reminds us that all externals are only temporary.
Therefore, who, Jesus or us, is preposterous by putting before what should be after? Who is really preposterous, Jesus who sees inner healing as a priority or everyone else who sees physical healing as more important.
Jesus loves to reverse the pre and the post. Jesus loves it when we think He is preposterous, because He wants to show us that our priorities are preposterous, when we reverse the before and after.
We read this preposterous Gospel on the second Sunday of the Great Fast (lent), to remind us that it is important to fast, simplify our life, and pray more often. For some fasting is unnecessary and preposterous. This time of the Great Fast encourages us to arrange our priorities to make sure that we do not have post (after) what should be pre (first) in our lives.
What is the first thing you think of in the morning? Is food the first thing you think of in the morning? But, food will only keep you full for a few hours.
How about do the think/thank exchange? Instead of think of food, thank God first. Before you think of what someone can do for you, thank someone for who they are for you. Grow closer to God, know and develop your strengths and build trust in your relationships. These should be first.
Is what we’re seeking bringing us happiness? Everyone is busy, but busy doing what? Jesus reminds us “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matthew 6:33). What is first in our life and is that what should be first?
“Jesus said to the paralytic --  ‘I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.’  And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’ ” (Mark 2:11-12).
Jesus knew what to put first.
When we don’t put God and the needs of others first we are being preposterous.
Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
Office: (714) 985-1710
My cell: (714) 914-1710
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