The Healing of the Paralytic
Gospel of St. Mark 2:1-12
As the Church continues her journey into the heart of the Great Fast, she calls her children to reflect upon the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. This Sunday, the Church recalls the healing of the paralytic. There is no mention of how long this poor man was in his condition. But we can assume by the fact that he was bedridden and not able to at least drag himself by some means, that his paralysis was severe, most likely from the neck down.
Imagine for a moment his state of being. Imagine having an itch on your face and not being able to scratch it. Imagine having to watch your loved ones toil over you as they carry your limp limbs, as they clean and feed you while you lie more helpless than an infant. Imagine how long the days, the hours and the minutes seem as you lie staring in whatever direction you had last been placed. Imagine being able to see life going on all around you, while being completely unable to experiencing. Your body is attached, yet completely cut off from you. It is incapable of receiving or transmitting information to your brain and so it is as good as dead to you. For your body, though it should be a tool for you to live and act in this world, is now your bondage.
Now imagine this state of being going beyond a limp and unresponsive body, to the very depths of the heart and soul. A soul that is cut off from communion with God is cut off from Life itself. No longer useful for the purpose for which it has been created, it is in a state of inescapable bondage to sin and death. And this is what our Lord saw when he looked upon the paralytic: a soul withering away, incapable of relating with God, as much as He saw a body incapable of relating to the brain. So He pronounces the words “Son, your sins are forgiven.” By this Word, the paralytic is reclaimed from death, healed from sin, freed to experience unhindered Communion with God Almighty and empowered to walk and grow in His Image.
And this same Word, who was and is and always will be, spans time and space, from Capernaum and two thousand years ago to the here and now, from the paralytic to me and to you: “Child, your sins are forgiven.” And because we do not often live as those who are forgiven, as those who are healed, the Church brings us to this place each year, to hear the Word anew. May the Word of forgiveness, the Word of healing, the Word of Life, release each one of us from whatever binds us during this Great Fast, that we may be able to rise with Him and walk with Him as we look to anticipate the Paschal Feast and His Kingdom to come.
Questions for Meditation
1. Where can you see an onset of “paralysis” in your relationship with God? Pray right now and ask Him to heal those areas. Be steadfast in all spiritual disciplines that build you up in His image. Recommit yourself to abstain from any bad habits/ relationships etc. that may be causing a block in your communion with God.
2. Do you see someone in your life that needs to be carried to Christ in prayer because their paralysis is so grave? Pray for them now and throughout this Lenten period. Faithful intercession precedes intervention (i.e. pray before you break down a roof!)
3. Do you surround yourself with people who bring you to Christ when you are unable to choose Him for yourself? Consider your friendships - invest in those that inspire you to grow in Christ.
4. Are you thankful for your body? Do you treat it as the Temple of God? Like the paralytic whose inward healing was manifested outwardly, let your healthy habits this Lent extend beyond prayer and Bible reading and Church, etc. to exercise and good nutrition.
Name: Rekha Mathew
Area: St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, San Francisco, CA