Our Healing Lord by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth" - he said to the paralytic, "I say to you , rise, pick up your mat, and go home." He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Rise, pick up your mat and walk?" The paralytic in today's Gospel experiences a twofold healing at the hands of Christ: a healing of body and spirit.
We might ask which is more remarkable. To see a paralyzed man get up and walk would truly be a sight to see. But, the scribes - and perhaps a few others gathered there - are more amazed at Jesus' authority and power to forgive sins: "Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Here is Jesus Christ manifesting his divinity. The mystery of the incarnation really makes us sit up and take notice.
We might also ask ourselves which is more important: the healing of the body or the soul? What would it benefit the man to have a sound body but a sick soul? Our Lord says elsewhere not to fear the one who can destroy the body, but the one who can destroy the soul in Gehenna. Enslavement to sin is enslavement to the Devil. Here Christ shows he came to break the enslavement. With grace and strength that comes from him that enslavement can be broken.
There are things that paralyze the soul, leaving it sick and lifeless, making it difficult to experience the healing power of Christ. There is despair, the profound sense that my sins are so great that I am unworthy of God's love, that God could never love a wretched soul like mine. That is when we need to be quiet and let God do the talking. Remember how Our Lord gave new life to the woman caught in adultery. Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son and that there is great rejoicing in heaven when we turn away from sin. Christ did not come to heal the healthy, but those who are sick.
Opposite despair is presumption, a blasť attitude that simply takes for granted when I sin, God will forgive me. When we sin and do injury to those we love, we approach the person and ask forgiveness in order to heal the wounded relationship. Love moves us to say, "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you." It does not simply presume these things. We want - we need - to say and hear those words. In the sacrament of penance, Christ gives us the means of being reconciled to the Father through him. He gives us the chance to say "I'm sorry," and God the chance to say, "I forgive you and I love you." Mercy never lets us off the hook - there must always be a firm purpose of amendment - but saying we are sorry and meaning it is a true act of charity and humility.
If we are in despair, we must never be afraid to approach Christ, the fountain of mercy, who waits for us. If we presume too such upon God's mercy, we must pray for humility and seek his forgiveness in the way he instructed us.
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