If you have spent any time listening to or reading the Gospels, you are aware of the discord between Jesus and the Pharisees. His preaching called into question the status quo and that made them uncomfortable. And yet, Jesus kept preaching and teaching and healing. This healing of the paralytic in today’s Gospel is amazing on many levels. First, the man’s friends are unbelievably persistent. They have faith. The paralytic, too, must have had great trust in his friends to let them lower him down. And then, his faith in Jesus. Faith heals him. But notice that he participates in this healing. He not only has faith, but he moves, he picks up his mat, because of that faith. When Jesus says “rise, pick up your mat, and go home,” he does. There is no question, no pause. He believes, he trusts, he has faith.
Now what about us? Since it is January and many people focus on starting fresh in a new year, let us consider what we have brought into this year that might have been better left behind. What has Jesus forgiven in us, that we are still carrying around? Do we want to get up and walk? Each time we go to confession, each time we go to Mass and pray the Confiteor, each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we are given the grace of forgiveness. We are given the command to rise, pick up and go. Not in those words, but certainly in practice. Do we have faith in the healing power of Jesus? The paralytic, his friends, the crowds, all had faith. The crowd was “astounded” at what happened.
Are you ever astounded after confession? I am. It usually happens at Mass, after receiving Communion, and I think about how free of sin I am and now Jesus is with me. The Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is with me. In that moment, I have great faith that I am free of sin, that I can pick up my mat. I realize I cannot be lukewarm in my faith. I am compelled to do something with the gift of faith I have been given.
Just as the paralytic man was given a gift of healing, we too have been healed. How have you been healed? Pray to see what you have been healed from and what you are healed for and then glorify the One who heals.
Deanna G. Bartalini, MEd, MPS, is a Catholic educator, writer, speaker, and retreat leader. She has served in ministry for over 40 years as a catechist, religious education director, youth minister, liturgical coordinator, stewardship director and Unbound prayer minister. For all of Deanna’s current work go to DeannaBartalini.com.
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