After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing,
and came into his own town. And there people brought
to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When
Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
"Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." At that, some of
the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming."
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why
do you harbor evil thoughts? 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 then said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up
your stretcher, and go home." He rose and went
home. When the crowds saw this they were struck
with awe and glorified God who had given such authority
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you
in this meditation ready to do whatever it is
you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy
and convenient path, yet I know the way of
a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you
I find the reason to abandon the easy path for
a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to
learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”
Lord, grant me a deeper experience of your
1. Crippled by Control: For St. Jerome, physical paralysis is
an image of man’s inability to return to God
by his own efforts. It is man’s inability to
create his own salvation, to set the terms by which
he can say he has made peace with God.
The paralysis is meant to speak more to the Pharisees
about their souls than to the cripple who bears
it. Christ saw stagnation in the Pharisees’ hearts. They
wanted to put God in a box, where their
relationship with him could neatly accommodate their status and comforts.
We, like the Pharisees, like our routine. We like
to coast in our spiritual life and dislike having
to adjust to God’s asking for more faith, trust or
charity. For saintly souls, Christ is ever new; they
are always being asked for more, and new experiences
of Christ fill them as a result. Their love never
goes stale since they refuse to control what God
can do with them.
2. The Only Real Problem Is Sin:
The paralytic and his companions arrive concerned only about
his physical condition. This is not, however, what is
first on Christ’s priority list. What is first, rather,
is the man’s state of soul. For God the problem
of life is not about problems. Problems are merely
the pretexts he sends us to heal and develop
our relationship with him: “Your sins are forgiven.” The problem
of life is all about holiness and about removing
the chief obstacle to holiness: sin. Deep down, the
only things that can hurt us are the obstacles of
sin and an egoistic lifestyle.
3. Awaiting God’s Replies: The
pause between “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven you” and
the cure of the paralysis initially may have caused
disappointment in those unfamiliar with Christ’s way of working.
In that wait our response to God comes, and
our part in the plan of salvation is played out.
Instant gratification of a child’s wants spoils the meaning
of his parents’ gift of loving support. To arrive
to Christian maturity, we must form the virtues of
faith and trust. Seeking cures must be sought more as
part of God’s will than as our own self-centered
relief effort. This takes time. Yet even in that pause,
in the dark night of faith, something is happening.
While miracles are on the way, we are being
changed. The command to rise seems only to confirm or
make visible something that has already occurred in the
paralytic’s soul: through faith and trust, Christ reigns over
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know that
in you alone I shall rise, because only you
can conquer sin in me. For my part, like
St. Paul, I have sought to fight the good fight,
strengthened by your grace and mercy. Help me to
accept every difficulty as a new chance to purify
my heart and sanctify my soul.
Today I will remember to avoid rash and judgmental
thoughts of others. As I do so I will keep
in my heart the merciful dispositions of Christ’s heart.