Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Here we have the well-known story of the paralytic and his devoted friends. Can you imagine the disappointment in the hearts of those friends when the result of their hope and hard work is simply, “Child, your sins are forgiven?” Perhaps they were devout enough to appreciate this profound statement, yet there must have been in them the hope that He would heal their friend of his infirmity. For a moment, it looked as though the flesh was beyond saving.

These friends perhaps fell to the same deception we looked at yesterday, the temptation our world has had for ages, that the flesh is a lost cause and so, literally, “to hell with it.” How many sins have we rationalized by divorcing our flesh from our soul, believing we can do one thing with our body, so long as we hold true to the faith in our heart and mind? Today Jesus teaches us that the salvation of the soul means also the salvation of the flesh.

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth…I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

Jesus redeems the whole man, soul and body; this He desires for all of us, and this work begins at our baptism. To heal the flesh is simple for Him; did He not fashion it from the dust of the earth like a child fashions things from clay? The soul is far harder to heal, for Jesus will not heal us without us. We must come before Him and bare our soul to the doctor, pointing out our every wound and infirmity. Hence He begins our redemption in the deepest recesses of our being by washing us spiritually at baptism. It is not until the very end, as we lie helpless upon our deathbed, that Christ says to us, “Rise and go home.”

Let us live in constant readiness for that day, and let us also seek to follow the example of the paralytic’s friends, doing whatever we can to bring others to the Lord’s healing power, to the waters of everlasting life.

January 16th, 2015