Am I my brothers Keeper?
In the Gospels, Jesus is constantly demonstrating that he is God, that he has the power to heal, that he is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, that he has come to save us from sin and death. To do that, he performs many miracles, including healing the sick; for the Jews, physical infirmity was a punishment for sin, and it kept a person outside the worshiping assembly. In healing infirmities, Jesus shows his power, but also restores each person to their place in the community of faith.
Today’s Gospel teaches us something more: within the Body of Christ, we are interconnected, responsible for the well-being others, and spiritually able to help one another. The paralytic is utterly incapable of bringing himself before Jesus. It took four men to carry him to the house where Jesus was preaching. They are so determined that they do not turn away when they are unable to enter – their ingenuity and dedication impel them to muscle their friend to the top of the house, where they pull away part of the roof and lower their friend into the room (we all need friends like this!). This took some time, energy, and strength! And Jesus’ reaction is a lesson for us: “Jesus saw their faith,” and turned to the paralytic and said, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now, it doesn’t seem that forgiveness was the main motive for working so hard to get the paralytic in proximity to Jesus. It seems more likely that the friends had faith that Jesus could CURE their friend, and we don’t even read that the paralytic asked for forgiveness. But Jesus waits for the scribes to react and object that only God can forgive sins, and then he physically heals the paralytic as a proof for them that he has the power to forgive sins AND heal the lame. Only God can do either of those things!
We are also called to act like the friends of this paralytic. We must work to help others to heal from every woundedness: spiritual, emotional, psychological, physical. We must bring others to Jesus, and not weary or be put off when this task seems difficult. We must intercede for others and sacrifice our own time and energy and strength on their behalf, because God responds to seeing OUR faith by pouring His light and grace on others. This is part of the mystery of the Body of Christ! We are all one in Christ, and must work for the good of one another.
We can ask: Who is the person in my life who needs my help and prayer? What is God asking me to do for that person? Let’s each make an effort on behalf of that person today. When we see God’s action in our lives and in the lives of others, we too will be astounded and glorify God, and say, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.