The Gospel according to Luke (5:17-26)
One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? 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 said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”
Reflection: There are several lessons in this story. The obvious lesson is that the faith of the paralytic saved him but let’s look a little deeper. For example, the Pharisees and Scribes who doubted Jesus and His teachings were present and attended this gathering. So, if they didn’t believe in Him then why were they there? Were they too paralyzed with their power and greed?
In this miracle, Jesus performs both a spiritual and a physical healing. The Spiritual is the faith of this man. The physical is the assistance from his friends. But the real truth to this story is that the paralyzed man would not have been able to get to Jesus without the spiritual and physical help from his friends. So, the faith that is taught in this story is the “Faith of the friends”. Can you think of anyone who needs a helping hand from you? How about yourself, do you need spiritual or physical help from friends? I know I do.
There are times when we need to be assisted and we must ask for healing, or to help others to do so. It was the faith of his friends and not the paralyzed man’s own faith to which Jesus responded, “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” When we forgive, and when we are forgiven, a crippling burden is lifted from our shoulders. We can then, like the man in this episode, rise and walk with the rest of our friends.
The man’s friends were not easily put off because of the large crowd. They used a team effort, their creativity, and the willingness to succeed to ensure that their paralyzed friend meets Jesus. Isn’t that what our church needs? Isn’t that what our life is really about? We are all in this together so shouldn’t it be a reasonable concept to succeed together as one group, one entity through unity?
This story always reminds me about something beautiful, responsive, and fun. Think about this story and its success. Now through your “Imaginative” power, what do you think this man and his friends did after all this happened? My guess would be that they probably laughed and cried with joy! They probably went to one of their homes and had a great feast. Imagine the joy, the love, the satisfaction that lived in their hearts. They not only cured a friend’s illness, but they witnessed Jesus Christ and was part of one of His miracles.
Isn’t that what this world around us needs during this Advent season? We are remembering the first coming of a Savior, and we are also preparing a welcome for Our Lord in our own hearts, and in the world of today. We need to prepare our community and bring “Joy to the World”.
Action of the Day: Think about those that you can assist. How could you bring joy to their world?