A Low Mass will be celebrated at St Francis of Assisi at Llay
tomorrow at 1230pm
It is interesting to note that "Jesus, seeing their faith . . ." heals the man of his sins. It was not the faith of the man who was sick but it was the faith of those who brought the man to Jesus. We see how necessary it is for us to enlist the help of our fellow men when we are in need of God's help. This man received this special grace of God because of the faith of his friends even though he himself appears to have very little faith.
When Christ tells the man that his sins are forgiven we hear nothing of him thanking God for the wonderful gift that he had received. He appears to be just as worldly minded as the scribes who doubted Jesus.
The man's sins were forgiven him because of the faith of those who brought him before Jesus; his body is healed because of the lack of faith of those who witnessed this miracle.
The first miracle, the forgiveness of sins is obviously the greater miracle, but it is doubted or lightly esteemed in the eyes of men. The second miracle, the healing of the man's body is obviously the lesser miracle but is the one most noted by men. "And the multitude, seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men."
We must note that God heals the soul first. As such we see that many of our physical disorders are brought about by the unseen spiritual disorders within us. In order to cure the body it is first necessary to cure the soul. As long as we remain in sin we are sick and there is no amount of pharmaceuticals that can cure us. The cure to many of our physical ailments must begin with the cure of our souls. To try and ignore the illness of the soul will only lead to further complications in the body and a worsening of the situation of the soul.
The bed that the man was lying on symbolises the man's sins. He was brought in lying in his bed of sin. The bed is a place of rest, comfort and joy. As long as man looks for his happiness in worldly things his bed becomes heavier and heavier with the weight of his sins. And this bed weighted down with the man's sins becomes a burden to him. This bed that he thought was to be the source of his worldly pleasures now has become his cross. The man was commanded to get up and take up the bed and go into his house. Even though he is now free from his sins and is healed both in body and soul he must still carry the burden of these sins that he has accumulated.
St. Gregory tells us: "In Sacred Scripture, bed or pallet, and also couch sometimes stand for pleasures of the body, sometimes for the refreshment of good works, sometimes for rest in the ordinary sense. For what is meant in the Gospel when the Lord says to a certain man who was healed: Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house but that by the bed pleasure of body is signified? And he is commanded to bear as a healthy man, that on which he had lain as a sick one; for every own who still delights in sin, lies sick in the pleasure of his flesh. But now healed he bears that upon which he had lain sick, because raised from his sins by divine assistance, he must afterwards bear with the assaults of that flesh in whose desires he had before found rest."
The crimes of the sinner continue to torment and tempt him even long after he has repented of them. Though this is a fair and just punishment for our sins it is one that is often not correctly understood. We must bear this burden as a just punishment for our sins and to further humble us. We must fully understand that we are not free from our sins by our own efforts but, only because of God's mercy towards us. We must constantly be reminded of our own weakness to prevent us from becoming proud. We must be reminded of our past to prevent us from proudly and vainly lacing ourselves above anyone else.
When we see what we have been and the crimes that we have committed against both God and man, we are much less likely to despise our fellow men, no matter how terrible they may appear. "There but for the grace of God go I." This was the sentiment of St. Francis who once declared that he was more guilty than the criminal going to his execution. His idea is simple enough, If that man had received all the graces that I have received he would probably have put them to better use than I have done. And if I had been in that man's position I would probably have sinned worse than he.
Let us learn from this sick man, to obtain the intercessory prayers of our friends so that God may heal us both in soul and body. Let us go to the priest that God has given His power to and have our sins forgiven first so that our bodies may then recover their health also. And let us patiently and humbly accept the consequences and punishment that is due to us for our sins. If we cheerfully do penance for our sins on earth we may confidently hope for an eternal rest in heaven.