In today’s Gospel, a paralytic man is brought to Jesus by 4 friends. They proceed to make a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching as there was no other way to bring him to Jesus for the crowd. Jesus’ first words to him were, “your sins are forgiven.” It was clear that the man was brought to Jesus to be healed from his paralysis, so why does Jesus forgive his sins instead? Well, given the Jewish belief that sickness was a punishment from God for sin, perhaps the only way that the man could be convinced that he was really healed was if he first knew that his sins were forgiven. It is then that he is prepared to hear Jesus say, “pick up your stretcher and go home.”
Perhaps we too remain in our physical, spiritual, or mental illness because we believe we deserve it and are not worth the healing? The story tells us that in such moments, sometimes it takes the intercession of friends to get us to where we need to get to in order to be healed. But the story also tells us that, just as our friends’ intercession can help us find healing, their intercession can also help us find forgiveness. We all need radical friends, who won’t settle to wait outside until Jesus is free but will do whatever it takes to get us the forgiveness and healing we need.
Fr. Ray Sanchez CP is the leader of the Oxley community and responsible for Parish Missions and Retreats throughout Australia and NZ.