Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
It has been well-observed that the paralytic who went to Jesus to be healed in today’s gospel must have been somewhat disappointed at Jesus’s initial reaction of “your sins are forgiven.” More than likely, the man was hoping first of all to be healed of his paralysis. He sought freedom from his condition, and desired to have full use of the body that God gave him. Jesus, however, puts first things first: he gives the paralytic forgiveness of sins before healing his legs. In doing so, Jesus gave the man an even higher freedom than he expected: the ability to have full use of the soul that God gave him.
Today in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day, where we gained freedom from the oppressive political policies of Great Britain. In many ways, that struggle was like the paralytic Jesus came across today. Primarily, it was an earthly freedom that was being sought, but in so doing, we opened ourselves up to the possibility of spiritual freedom as well. Ultimately, this is what all freedoms aim at. Rather than simply being a thing to be used for its own sake or our pleasure, freedom is something that ought to lead us to God. If we are using all our freedoms properly and fully, we are freely choosing “to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save (our souls).” In a time when there are many debates in our society of what constitutes freedom, we would do well to remember this ultimate purpose of freedom.