Penance Before Healing

Luke 5: 17-26

Is 35: 1-10/ Ps 85: 9-14

When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
(Luke 5:20)

Seek forgiveness, and be purified,

Let our spirit first be made clean;

Our pleas for healing will be denied

If we are paralyzed by sin.

One day, while Jesus was teaching inside a house where Pharisees and scribes sat listening, some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat to lay before Him for healing. Unable to get inside the house because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed the tiles, and lowered him on his mat through the hole into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to think, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Knowing what was in their minds, Jesus asked them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up, took his mat, and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. (Luke 5:17-26)

Reflection

We see two reasons why our Lord forgave the paralytic’s sins first before healing him. The first was to stir up controversy in the minds of the Pharisees and scribes who were present regarding His authority to forgive sins, and then proving that He possessed it. Only God could give instant healing to a paralytic, just as easily as He could forgive sins. But the Pharisees and scribes were the ones so paralyzed by their sins of envy and pride that they failed to see that indeed Jesus had that authority.

The second reason was to emphasize to one and all that spiritual healing was far more important than the physical healing that the paralytic and his friends so desperately sought. And yet, both were freely given. They went to all the trouble to seek relief from a debilitating disease, but the paralytic never thought of asking for his freedom from a worse condition, the sins that would have paralyzed his soul forever. Jesus healed both his body and soul, all because of their faith and perseverance.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said in the case of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who, for all their knowledge and intelligence suffered a greater disease because of their stubborn pride. Convinced of their own false piety and righteousness, they refused to admit that they needed repentance, and so remained trapped in their wicked state.

One important lesson that we see in this Gospel passage is that like the paralytic’s friends we must also go to all lengths to bring others who are still paralyzed by sin to our Lord Jesus, so that they too may find peace and health in both body and soul. We can also pray for the sick brothers and sisters in our community who certainly need our help in bringing their ailments to the Lord for healing.

Dear God, we were no different from that paralytic, helpless and bound, before You forgave our sins. But now You have released and empowered us with Your Holy Spirit, and it is only proper that we obey our Lord Jesus, Who said, “Go and make disciples of all nations . . .teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt.28:19-20). Amen.

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