The Healing of a Paralytic
Martin Luther said: “Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.”
Jesus in today’s gospel reading teaches us about prayer. The first lesson is, in order to pray, we do not have to say much. Martin Luther said something also about this that the fewer the words, the better the prayer. The friends of the paralytic bring him to Jesus. The passage does not say anything that the paralytic requests his friends that he wants to be healed by Jesus or any words coming from his friends that they will bring him to Jesus. Yet, even if they never say a word to each other, the gesture of taking him to Jesus and wanting him to be healed is in itself a prayer. Therefore when we pray, we do not need so many words to say, what we need is much faith in the Lord. If we feel that our prayers seem not answered, this maybe because we talk too much at prayer.
The second lesson is, when we pray let God decide for us. When the four men bring the paralytic to Jesus, they slipped away immediately. As if they are telling Jesus: “Take charge we have already done our part.” This is how we must pray that when we are in the presence of God let Him decide for us. When we pray we should not give God instructions on what to do to the extent that we do not give God anymore a chance to decide.
The third lesson is, because of the faith of his friends the paralytic is healed. Usually, when Jesus is curing a sick person, it is the faith of the person himself as the basis for the complete healing. But surprisingly, in today’s gospel, it is not the faith of the paralytic, it is the faith of his friends that his sins are forgiven and is cured. It is the faith of his friends that touches Jesus and moves Him to cure the sick person.
What we have here then is a form of faith we sometimes forget about and yet one which plays an important role in our lives, the faith of other people. Someone said: “When my faith is weak, I need your faith to support me, when your faith is weak you need my faith to support you.” For example, St Monica, wasn’t her faith instrumental in the conversion of her son, St. Augustine? St. Therese of Lisiux’s faith, she was a nun living in a monastery but she was a patron saint of all missionaries.
We never know what far-reaching effects our faith will have on others. But we do from this gospel story that Jesus uses the faith of other people to touch the life of an individual whose faith may be weak.
All of us have received similar graces because of the faith of our friends, whether these friends were our parents, our teachers, our co-workers or our companions. But how often are we one of four friends to others? How often is our faith a source of grace, strength and inspiration for them when they are in doubt or distress?
May be today the Lord is telling us not to pick up our own mat but to pick up with faith someone’s else mat and carry him/her into His presence? We want others to change but do we have the faith that can change them?