Sixth Sunday after Pentecost- The healing of the paralytic
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On the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost; we read the Evangelical words from Matthew Chapter Nine Verses 1-8, where Matthew describes the miracle of the healing of the paralytic whose sins the Lord forgave before granting him healing of the body.
The Gospel begins with the return of Jesus to His city (Capernaum), which was the centre of His ministry. There, a paralytic was brought by his friends to the Lord in faith and confidence to be healed. But Jesus always works one step further, He is able to truly know the inner workings of man’s heart and He is able to read our heart’s desires. The mysteries of the heart are not mysteries to Christ. He knew that this paralytic man needed healing of the soul, which in this case could only be manifested through forgiveness of his sins before his physical body could be healed.
Jesus looks deep into the human soul and diagnoses its illness and desires, and He is able to heal accordingly. In this way, we come to see that Jesus sees and cares about the internal person more than the superfluous humanity, more than the transient outer being. If we look to the Psalms we’ll read that God is the “examiner of the hearts and kidneys”.
In the Old Testament, the heart is thought of as the centre of thought and the kidneys were the centre of desires. God diagnoses the hearts and kidneys; that is, He knows the innermost dwellings of a man even if he attempts to hide behind fake masks and external untruthful worship. And to Christ, the healing of the Soul before the body is imperative, because of the soul’s eternal nature, and the body is mere mortal. The sequence of the events in today’s Gospel with the delivering of healing shows the superiority of the Soul over the body, it shows what must be made to heal first and what effort we should put into cleansing our hearts before the effort we put into cleansing our outer beings.
When the Lord gave healing to the paralytic; He revealed to us that He is Omniscient, The Lord who knows everything, who knows our hearts and thoughts. He is the Lord because no one can forgive sins “but God alone”. This paralytic man in today’s Gospel suffered from spiritual paralysis. He was paralysed spiritually because of his sins, and Jesus gave him spiritual healing, which is what we must pray for. We are further reminded of this teaching of our Orthodox Church on Great Wednesday, during the Holy Unction Service where the penitent believers are anointed by the Holy oil for the healing of Soul and body and for the forgiveness of sins. If you take a moment to reflect, you will realise that all the sacraments that we receive in our Holy church are for the healing of the Soul and the body.
During that time, this act of forgiving irritated the scribes, who were an educated group that had studied and taught the Law (Old Testament). With the Pharisees, they had social and religious stature in the Jewish community. You could say they were the “theologians” of that time and the equivalent of the legal presiders in today’s culture. Those groups hid behind the mask of piety and external practices and ignored the purity of heart and soul. Deep in their hearts, they felt that Jesus was a blasphemer, but He read their inner thoughts and answered them: It is simple to heal the body, but healing the soul requires repentance, which requires effort, time and commitment. The Lord Jesus knows and teaches us that spiritual illness is the most dangerous and most difficult to heal than the physical illness. Saint Isaac the Syrian says: “The repentant man is greater than the man who raises the dead.”
After the paralytic’s sins were forgiven the Lord gave him the complete healing of bodily health and the man carried his bed and went home.
O Lord, heal my soul that is paralysed by sins that I may glorify thy Holy Name,
Metropolitan Basilios Kodseie +