All of us at one time or another in our life, we have been sick and have gone to the doctor. For some of us we needed the lifesaving skill of the doctor of the medication that was prescribed to us. If it was not for the skill of that physician we would more than likely be dead.
People are living longer lives because of the advances of medicine and I believe this is a good thing. Life expectancy has grown leaps and bounds just in the last 50 years. Now it’s not all about medicine, but it surely does help. We have to eat right, exercise and take care of our bodies if we want them to be around for a long time.
But what of our soul? Some of us will spend, over the next week, hours taking care of our physical appearance. We will stand in front of the mirror, some of us will look in horror at the face that stares back at us, but none the less we will do our hair, shave, put on makeup, and choose the right outfit to wear for the occasion so we can look our best. But what of our soul?
In today’s Gospel we have an amazing story of love and determination. Jesus is in town a group of guys want to being their friend to see him so maybe, just maybe Jesus would be able to heal him. Their friend is paralyzed and cannot move. He is confined to his bed so they have to carry the bed with them to the house were Jesus is staying.
Upon their arrival they find “there is no room in the Inn.” They cannot get in because of the crowd that has gathered to hear Jesus speak. Now this will not stop them. I can just see them trying to figure out a way to get this man into the house. Now the Gospel tells us they went up on the roof and made a hole and lowered him in. Imagine the work involved in all of this.
Now I am sure they did not have their tool belts on them, so they would have had to return home to get some tools, and a rope, unless they found them in the home owners’ yard. Then they had to cut a hole in the roof! Okay, all those people around and no one noticed that some people were on the roof cutting a hole in it? Where was the home owner? What would you do if you had some guests over and in the middle of the conversation someone started to cut a hole in the roof!
So now we have this group of guys on the roof with their friend, and his bed! The make a hole in the roof and start to lower their friend down in front of Jesus, all the while he is talking. Scripture does not say this but I can only imagine what was going on in the house. By the sound of it everyone one just sat there listening to Jesus. It does not take much to distract people and if the speaker is good at what he does then people pay attention but come on we are talking major construction and a guy dangling from a rope!
So they make it inside and Jesus looks down and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” Great but what about my legs? Well Scripture does not say that but that’s what I would say. Thanks for the whole forgiveness of sins thing but I came for me legs! So you go to the doctor, and as usual he is running like 3 hours behind so you wait and read old magazines. When you finally get in, and you are wearing that paper night gown, he walks in and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven” and walks out the door! And you have to pay the co-pay on top of it.
But the story does not end there.
Enter the Pharisees. You can always count on a Pharisee to get things going. You see the Pharisees are the ones who are more concerned about the letter of the law then the spirit of the law. They are more concerned with the fact you used milk in your coffee at coffee hour during the great fast then they are about the fact that they just judged you! So they get the nose all out of joint and say, WOW wait just a minute bub, only God can forgive sins. Now if that was me, and using a little bit of sarcasm I would say, ya, I am God! But no, Jesus does not do this. He asks them a question, what is easier to forgive sins to heal someone? But to show you that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, he tells the man take up your mat and go! Oh and by the way fix the roof on your way out!
Jesus is spot on here. It is easy to fix what ails us physically it is much harder to fix our soul. Both take faith, faith in the physician to heal our physical wounds but we have to have faith in God to heal the spiritual ones. It takes great courage to come here, stand before the Icon of Christ, and confess what we have done wrong. No one likes to admit when they have done wrong, but for most of us we feel so much better after we do. I am leaving right after Church today and head to St. Tikhon Monastery in PA to see my spiritual father and go to confession. My palms are already sweating just thinking about it! To stand naked, so to speak, before God is not easy. Then we add the part about another person being there, standing right there alongside you listening to what you are saying. And this makes it even harder. It’s hard to admit to God when we have done wrong, but to admit it to another person? Oh boy, stress factor 1,000 here!
But this was the purpose of Christ coming to us in human form. He came into the world to forgive sins, feeing all of us from the bondage of the Evil One. It is not me that forgives your sins, for as the confession prayers say, “for I have no power to do that only God does” but with faith we come and seek His forgiveness and reconciliation. In the story Jesus was only going to forgive the man’s sins, which would give him eternal life, but for those around Him, Jesus heals the man as well that they would be drawn to God.
Faith is central to our salvation. Faith was central in today’s story as well. The paralyzed man had faith as did his friends; I dare say the home owner had faith that his roof was going to get fixed as well. “Hey Jesus, you’re a carpenter right?”
Many of us here today are paralyzed; we are paralyzed with fear of admitting that we have done wrong. We are paralyzed with fear that the priest will judge me for what I have done. Remember this; the priest is a sinner as well and needs God’s forgiveness. We are in this together!
Make this Lent the time that you open the roof and lower yourself in to be healed. If you need to ask some friends to help you, but do not miss this opportunity to come and see Jesus. Jesus wants to see you; He desires that you come to him in all humility. Make this your time.