One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.” (Luke 5: 17-26)
To understand what is happening here we have to realize the perceived close relationship in those days between sin and sickness. Sickness, especially something chronic like paralysis or blindness, was often presumed to be the result of or punishment for sin. So if Jesus can totally remove the sickness, it must mean the sin which caused it has gone too. Jesus can forgive sin.
We may not express things quite the same way now but there was a lot of truth in the belief that there was a relationship between sickness and behavior. A large proportion of people are sick and even in hospital because their bodies are revealing symptoms of disease which has its roots in their hearts and minds and feelings. The healing power of Jesus, which we all need, has to extend to every part of our being – body, mind, heart and in our relationships with others.
There are intimations in this story of resurrection, new life, when the man now stands up, something he could not do before. And, now able to walk, he goes home, that is, he goes to the place where he belongs. We too need the healing of Christ which removes the things which paralyze or handicap us in our following him. We need to stand anew in the Life that he gives and then find our way to our true home, which is to be with him.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, how great was the faith of the paralytic! He was humble enough to find you and strong enough in his faith that nothing could keep him from you. Grant me the gift of a humble heart and a strong faith so I can be constant and dedicated to seeking to encounter you in my life and in fulfilling your will for your glory and the good of others alone.
Advent is an opportunity for us to remove those areas of our life that keep us separated from union with Jesus Christ. Now is the time when we should isolate that patterns of thought or behavior that are at odds with our Christian faith and resolve never to allow them in our lives again. Jesus is there to provide both the strength to do that as well as to provide the true reason why we live today.