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James Martin, S.J.August 23, 2012

The Lazy Paralytic

1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at his home. 2. 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. 3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  4. 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. 5. When Jesus saw this he grew angry, “Why did you wreck my roof?  Do you have any idea how much that cost to install?  Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof?  The reeds alone cost five talents.  I had them carted in from Bethany.”  6. The disciples had never seen Jesus so angry about his possessions.  He continued, “This house is my life.  And the roof is the best part.”  The disciples fell silent.   7. “It’s bad enough that you trash my private property, now you want me to heal you?” said Jesus, “And did you not see the stone walls around this house?”  “Yes,” said the man’s friends.  “Are these not the stone walls common to the towns and villages of Galilee?"  8. “No,” Jesus answered.  “This is a gated community.  How did you get in?”  The man’s friends grew silent.  9. Then Jesus turned and said to the paralytic, “Besides, can’t you take care of your own health problems?  I’m sure that your family can care for you, or maybe the synagogue can help out.”  10. “No, Lord,” answered the man's friends.  “There is no one.  His injuries are too severe.  To whom else can we go?”  11. “Well, not me,” said Jesus.  “What would happen if I provided access to free health care for everyone?  That would mean that people would not only get lazy and entitled, but they would take advantage of the system.  12. Besides, look at me: I’m healthy. And you know why?  Because I worked hard for my money, and took care of myself.”  The paralyzed man then grew sad and he addressed Jesus.  “But I did work, Lord,” said the paralytic.  “Until an accident rendered me paralyzed.”  “Yes,” said the man’s friends. “He worked very hard.”  13. “Well,” said Jesus, “That’s just part of life, isn’t it?”  “Then what am I to do, Lord?” said the paralytic.  “I don’t know.  Why don’t you sell your mat?”  14. All in the crowd then grew sad.  “Actually, you know what you can do?" said Jesus. "You can reimburse me for my roof.  Or I’ll sue you." And all were amazed.  15. “We have never seen anything like this,” said the crowd. 

The Very Poorly Prepared Crowd

1. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 2 But Jesus said to them, “Why not give them something to eat?” They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people."  3 For there were about five thousand men. And Jesus said to his disciples, “You know what?  You’re right.  Don’t waste your time and shekels.  It would be positively immoral for you to spend any of your hard-earned money for these people.  They knew full well that they were coming to a deserted place, and should have relied on themselves and brought more food.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s every five thousand men for themselves.”  4. The disciples were astonished by this teaching.  “But Lord,” said Thomas.  “The crowd will surely go hungry.”  Jesus was amazed at his hard-headedness.  “That’s not my problem, Thomas.  Better that their stomachs are empty than they become overly dependent on someone in authority to provide loaves and fishes for them on a regular basis.  Where will it end?  Will I have to feed them everyday?”  “No, Lord,” said Thomas, “Just today.  When they are without food.  After they have eaten their fill, they will be healthy, and so better able to listen to your word and learn from you.”  Jesus was grieved at Thomas’s answer.  Jesus answered, "It is written: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  So taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and took one loaf and one fish for himself, and gave the rest to the twelve, based on their previously agreed-upon contractual per diem.  But he distributed none to the crowd, because they needed to be taught a lesson.  So Jesus ate and he was satisfied.  The disciples somewhat less so.  "Delicious," said Jesus.  What was left over was gathered up and saved for Jesus, should he grow hungry in a few hours.  The very poorly prepared crowd soon dispersed. 

The Rich and Therefore Blessed Young Man

1. As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to him and knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  2. And Jesus said to him, “What have you done so far?” 3. And he said to Him, “Well I was born into a wealthy family, got into a good school in Galilee because my parents donated a few thousand talents for a building with a nice reed roof, and now I have a high-paying job in the Roman treasury managing risk.” 4. Looking at him, Jesus felt an admiration for him, and said to him, “Blessed are you!  For you are not far from being independently wealthy." And the man was happy.  Then Jesus said, "But there is one thing you lack: A bigger house in a gated community in Tiberias. Buy that and you will have a treasure indeed.  And make sure you get a stone countertop for the kitchen.  Those are really nice."  The disciples were amazed.  5. Peter asked him, “Lord, shouldn’t he sell all his possessions and give it to the poor?” Jesus grew angry.  “Get behind me, Satan!  He has earned it!”  Peter protested: “Lord,” he said, “Did this man not have an unjust advantage?  What about those who are not born into wealthy families, or who do not have the benefit of a good education, or who, despite all their toil, live in the poorer areas of Galilee, like Nazareth, your own home town?”  6. “Well,” said Jesus, “first of all, that’s why I left Nazareth.  There were too many poor people always asking me for charity.  They were as numerous as the stars in the sky, and they annoyed me.  Second, once people start spending again, like this rich young man, the Galilean economy will inevitably rebound, and eventually some of it will trickle down to the poor.  Blessed are the patient!  But giving the money away, especially if he can’t write it off, is a big fat waste.”  The disciples’ amazement knew no bounds.  “But Lord," they said, "what about the passages in both the Law and the Prophets that tell us to care for widows and orphans, for the poor, for the sick, for the refugee?  What about the many passages in the Scriptures about justice?” 7. “Those are just metaphors,” said Jesus.  “Don’t take everything so literally.”

James Martin, SJ




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Tim Meier
11 years 9 months ago
Well-done, James!  It's The Gospel According to Ayn Rand!!  (I knew a manuscript of it was out there somewhere.)
11 years 10 months ago
How very sad; this author claims to be neutral yet, does not see the grave faults of his left-leaning positions. This is hyperbole, pure and simple and it presents a caricature of conservatives.

I could easily provide a similar satire:

 "We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people."  3 For there were about five thousand men. And Jesus said to his disciples, “You know what?  You’re right.  Don’t waste your time and shekels.  It would be positively immoral for you to spend any of your hard-earned money for these people when it is clear that the government should feed them all. The church should stay out of it.  They knew full well that they were coming to a deserted place, and should have relied on themselves and brought more food from health and human services.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s every five thousand men for themselves - only big government programs can help them.”  4. The disciples were astonished by this teaching especially when it was mentioned that abortion would solve this overpopulation problem of 5000 in any case.

Melody Evans
11 years 10 months ago
Yikes!  So thankful the Gospel is nothing like the current American rhetoric.
Bill Collier
11 years 10 months ago
Newly discovered texts from the archeological dig on Wall Street? :)
Rick Fueyo
11 years 10 months ago
Awesome, Fr. Jim
annette gape
11 years 10 months ago
This Jesus would get along well with the ''I told you so'' Jesus.  Brilliant piece and I am sharing!
11 years 10 months ago
Fr. Jim, you are so brilliant!   I hope all those  who blame the poor and the marginalized for being so read this piece!
11 years 10 months ago
Not all conservative are free market worshipers, btw, there are plenty of social conservatives who see the hyper-global market as a negative impact on traditional culture and local community.

 As for being balanced, the good father martin should come up with a follow-up post satirizing the libertine impulses of democrats and their reliance on unlimited individual freedom combined with large, centralized government. 

Christ said that we should give Caesar his monetary due and nothing more - not become dependent on the state or worship it as a god, as was the custom of the Romans and certain Americans... 
Stanley Kopacz
11 years 10 months ago
This should get Fr. Martin another appearance on the Colbert Report.  Hope he gets it.
Mike Brooks
11 years 10 months ago
Ha, ha!   Here's another one:

While Jesus was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “What a waste of expensive perfume.  It could have been sold and the money given to the poor!"
But Jesus said, "Leave her alone.  Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me."
"Now let's have a little more of that perfume to trickle down my forehead."

Mike Evans
11 years 10 months ago
Take two drachmas and read a prosperity gospel, then call your broker on Monday. Sell the Kingdom short and hedge your bet with a dollar donated to a beggar.
11 years 10 months ago
James:  You did it again.  This made me feel uncomfortable.  It demonstrates the contradiction between current reasoning of some, and what and who Jesus was ...and IS.  Thank you for this riveting piece.  It's food for much thought.
11 years 10 months ago
This reminds me of ''The Gospel of the Silver Mark'' written around 1160.

At that time, the Pope said to the Romans, ''When the son of man comes to the seat of our majesty, first say, `Friend, why have you come?' But if he continues knocking without giving you anything, throw him out into the outer darkness.'' And it came to pass that a certain poor cleric came to the Curia of the Lord Pope and cried out, saying, ''Do you, at least, have mercy on me, you doorkeepers of the Pope, for the hand of poverty has touched me. I am indeed needy and poor. Therefore, I beg you to come to my aid.'' But when they heard him they were exceeding angry, and they said, ''Friend, you and your poverty can go to hell. Get thou behind me, Satan, because you do not smell of money. Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall not enter into the joy of your lord [the Pope] until you pay your last farthing.'' So the poor man went away and sold his coat and his shirt and everything he owned and gave it to the cardinals and doorkeepers and chamberlains. But they said, ''What is this among so many?'' They threw him out, and he went off weeping bitterly and inconsolably. Later on, a certain rich cleric came to the Curia. He was gross and fat and swollen, and had committed treacherous murder. He bribed first the doorkeeper, then the chamberlain, then the cardinals. But they put their heads together and demanded more. However, the Lord Pope heard that his cardinals and ministers had been lavishly bribed by the cleric, and he was sick even to death. So the rich man sent him medicine in the form of gold and silver, and straightway he was healed. The Lord pope summoned his cardinals and ministers and said to them, ''Brethren, be vigilant lest anyone deceive you with empty words. My example I give unto you, that you might grab just as I grab.''
Marie Rehbein
11 years 10 months ago
Let's hope the intended audience gets the sarcasm.
Crystal Watson
11 years 10 months ago
Thanks, Fr. Martin.
james belna
11 years 10 months ago
The Parable of the Lucky Servant

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. His master said to him, “You didn’t build that. I am going to take six of them back. For to everyone who has, more will be taken.”

The Good Politician

A man fell victim to robbers. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half dead. A priest wanted to take him to his Catholic hospital, but could not because he did not offer free contraceptives to his employees. Likewise a Levite doctor came by and offered to treat him, but could not because the rates for malpractice insurance were too high and he could no longer afford to practice medicine. But a politician who came upon him was moved with compassion. He wrote a 2,000-page bill that provided comprehensive health insurance for travelers on the road to Jericho. Then he collected silver coins from every healthy passerby and gave them to the government with the instruction “Create a giant bureaucracy that will control every aspect of people’s lives, from what they eat to how they have sex. Establish a panel to decide if it is cost-effective to treat this man. If you spend more than I have given you - and I know you will - I will take $716 billion from Medicare.”

The Pharisee Press Conference

Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. “Teacher, we know you are a truthful man. Tell us, then, what is you opinion – is the fine that the uninsured people will be forced to pay under the Obamacare law a penalty or a tax?” Knowing their malice, he said “What did I say that it was when I gave speeches? They replied, “A penalty.” Then he said “And what did I say that it was in front of the Supreme Court?” They replied, “A tax. But you still haven’t answered our question.” At that he said to them, “Hey, speaking of taxes, why won’t Mitt Romney release all of his tax returns from the past ten years?”
Helen Romero
11 years 10 months ago
Clever! This is the Gospel according to unbridled market economy! :)
Mark Thornton
11 years 10 months ago
If all Jesus intended to do was heal the sick and feed the poor he could have done that without ever leaving the glory of heaven. There was only one thing that Jesus could do on earth that it would be impossible for him to do from heaven – and that is to die. Because of his love for the Father and because of his love for his people he laid aside his heavenly glory and became fully human. He became flesh. He had a real human body with real blood flowing through real veins pumped by a real human heart. He lived a perfectly sinless life and fulfilled all of the righteous requirements of the law. Then he died on the cross to satisfy God’s wrath against the sin of all who will ever come to Jesus in repentance and faith. He died a real death. Then God raised him from the dead to show that his sacrifice was accepted and God’s wrath has been turned away from all who trust in Christ alone for salvation. Poverty and illness are not the real problem. Sin is the real problem and that is the problem that Jesus came to remedy. He died to save his people from the penalty of sin. He lives to save his people from the power of sin. And he will come again to save his people from the presence of sin.
He died to save his people from the penalty of sin. He lives to save his people from the power of sin. And he will come again to save his people from the presence of sin.
Thomas Farrell
11 years 10 months ago
Ah, James Martin, S.J., is tuned into the spirit of the New Evangelization that the Catholic bishops like to talk about.

With the Gospel According to James Martin, S.J., the New Evangelization should help increase the ranks of the Republican Party in the United States.
Michael Krajovic
11 years 10 months ago
Our society must begin to find the right balance between individual responsibility and social responsibility to others.  WE need to improve our conscious awareness so that our individual pursuits of success do not harm others now or their future generations.  We need to improve many of our social support programs to be better able to help those that need help without creating on going dependency. We need to improve our economic system where all people are provided equal opportunities to participate, regardless of their level of personal family support. Many children, simply because of where they are born (which family, neighborhood, country, etc.) do not have the same opportunity or probability to be adequately successful.  We need a better system where the most important social decisions are not decided by money whether it be the amount of profit or cost.  Our current profit driven era is coming to an end and people are yearning for an alternative.  People should not have to compete against each other where only a few can win and most lose in the game of life.  We need to redefine winning and reward those who truly ad value to society.  We need to find new social systems where cooperation rather than competition becomes the norm that has the potential to unleash even greater power of the individual with greater passion and freedom for everyone.  Our shared common goal in life should be redesigning human operating systems to improve human happiness.  To accomplish this, we must learn to think from our hearts, not just from the ego's of our mind, and find the oneness we all share which is at the core of all Christian values.  Mike Krajovic  Uplifting Humanity
Arturo Vasquez
11 years 9 months ago
You should follow up with a parody of the first Christians in the Book of Acts, perhaps portraying them as investment bankers at Goldman Sachs.

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