“And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in His presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” He said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God” – Luke 5:18-20,24-26
What a great scene presented to us in today’s Gospel reading. This complicated, colorful event has inspired artists, spiritual writers and preachers throughout the ages. Jesus is in a crowded house with people who are there for many different reasons; the sick and crippled hoping for a cure; the Pharisees to catch Jesus blaspheming; and probably the majority were curious on-lookers who just came to see this man, whom they have heard does and says the most amazing things.
In a recent reading of these passages, I began to focus on the paralyzed man. What was he thinking? Did he hear about Jesus’ reputation as a healer? Was it the idea of his family and friends that he come? What was the man’s reaction as he was let down in the midst of this noisy crowd? And then, reading the minds of the Pharisees, Jesus said’ “Your sins are forgiven you”. Did the paralytic think “That’s not really why I came!”? Happily, Jesus does cure him and sends him home glorifying God.
Reflecting on this encounter, I sense that Jesus is revealing himself to us as a God of surprises. We go to him for one reason or another and we encounter God in a way we may never have expected. This amazed reaction of the crowd is described in the final verse:
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”
Jesus, in my prayer, reflection and interaction with others, help me to be sensitive to the not so obvious ways that You may be communicating Yourself to me.
Brother Paul Murray, C.F.X.
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