But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.
When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the one who was paralyzed—”I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”
Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In Jesus’ time, it was believed that disease or paralysis was a result of a personal sin. It was believed that being paralyzed was an outward sign that identified that the person had a shady moral compass.
What sticks out to me about the Gospel passage today is the willingness and dedication of the people who help the paralyzed man attain forgiveness (ultimately, to be physically healed) for his sins. First, these men are helping a man who by his physical health was considered by society to be a bad person. Then these men are going out of their way, climbing a roof, lowering a paralyzed man who is probably very heavy and difficult to move, from the top story of a building just to bring him in the presence of Jesus. These men took the outcast of society and did all that they could to bring that individual to the face of God.
Perhaps we should look within our own society and lives. Who are the “paralyzed” outcasts that are in need of seeing the love, forgiveness, and greatness of God? In what ways can we lower them, so they may find themselves in the presence of Jesus?
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to recognize the needs of those around me, so that I may respond in love and, in doing so, make you known in their midst. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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