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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The paralytic - and other points of view.

There are so many layers in Scripture. You can read a verse or whole story several times and each time find new insights in the text. Here are some layers inside the story of the healing of the paralytic.

Even by themselves there are so many stories in the Bible that are beautiful that alone they capture the world’s attention. Yet, put them back into the context from where they came, and they come alive all the more.

Today I want to look at the story of the paralytic that is healed with the help of his friends.

Mark 2:1-12 And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Arise, and take up your pallet and walk '? "But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins "-- He 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 in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

This would have been incredible to see. Imagine yourself as any one of the characters and this story teams with life.

As the man on the pallet, did he want to see Jesus? When he saw the crowds did he say, “maybe some other time?”

As one of the four men carrying their friend or relative, had they seeTn or just heard about Jesus and what he was able to do?

As the owner of the house, privileged to have such a man as Jesus choose your house to preach in and then to question why someone would be ripping apart the roof. Did he get mad?

This is one aspect to think about.

Doctrinally, this event is packed with information.

#1 The four friends are interceding for their friend. They are carrying him when he is not about to carry himself.
#2 It says Jesus saw their faith. While this may include the faith of the paralytic, it is certainly talking about the faith of the four friends. So on account of someone else’s faith, blessings are being bestowed on a third party.
#3 It says : “But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" Notice it says, “in their hearts,” not out loud. Christ here is revealing His Divinity in three ways. First, He is claiming to be God by forgiving the man’s sins. Second, He is reading the hearts of those present.
Listen to what the Bible says about reading the heart:
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Jeremiah 20:12 Yet, O LORD of hosts, Thou who dost test the righteous, Who seest the mind and the heart;
So Jesus is then proving himself to be God by saying, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?”
Then He proves that He has authority in and of Himself by saying, "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose.
Jesus never says, “In the name of God, I say do these things,” or, “By the power of the Holy Name do I command you.” He just gives the command and it happens, like at Creation.
#4 See what St. Matthew adds in Matthew 9:8 But when the multitudes saw this, they were filled with awe, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Yes, God gave this authority to men, plural. What authority is that? Not just the authority to perform miracles, but also the authority to forgive sins.

Now on a moral level what does this have to do with me?

Are you the kind of person that would carry a friend to Jesus? What if there are obstacles, do you give up? What if a third party needs help bringing his friend to Jesus, are you willing to help?
Are you spiritually paralyzed? Do you need a doctor for your soul? Jesus is the Divine Physician and has given us a new heart in our Baptism, yet we need to have regular checkups and receive the medicine that keeps us healthy, namely the Eucharist. Ask some friends for help, if they say no, it is my opinion that you should get new friends! Spiritually, we were all paralyzed at one time. Our meetings are not anonymous though, they are public and we need to support each other every day on our road to recovery, called Heaven.

Finally, I heard a beautiful spiritual interpretation of this event.

The four friends are the four Gospels, and they carry us, who are paralyzed by sin, to Christ. Christ then forgives our sins so that we can walk with Him toward our Heavenly home.

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