Many of us are paralyzed in life.
We are paralyzed in different ways. Some of us are paralyzed physically. We feel constrained in mobility and are heavily dependent on caregivers. Others are paralyzed by their past. They cannot forgive themselves or the mistakes they had made. They also cannot let go of those unpleasant events in their lives. They cannot forgive themselves or those who have hurt them. Whenever they recall the pain and the shame they suffered, they are unsettled.
If we feel paralyzed and too weak to get back to living again, let us take courage for the Lord is assuring us that He has come to save us. He said, “Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’” We hear these words, “take courage” very often in the bible. David said to Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it. Fear not, be not dismayed; for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chr 28:20) Moses said to his successor, Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt 31:6) And the angel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Lk 1:30) Indeed, this is good news. We need to renew our courage again and take comfort that the Lord will come to render justice to us all.
With His coming, He will make the soil and the land fertile again. He will renew the face of the earth. ‘Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy. The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God.” Indeed, whenever the Lord is with us, we will be always fruitful. This is what the Lord said, “He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (Jn 15:16)
The Lord has come also to heal us of our illnesses. This is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.” We read in the gospel that “the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing.” Jesus healed and delivered people from all illnesses. “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.” (Mt 9:35) Hence, we must not despair when we are sick or unable to find the right medication or doctor to cure us of our sickness. There is always hope. The Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” (Num 11:23) Indeed, just as in the New Testament, the miracles continue to be worked even in our days because the Lord promised His disciples, “these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:17f)
So what is preventing us from being healed? Firstly, it is because of our sins. The prophet Isaiah said, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isa 59:1f) That is why above all, the Lord comes to forgive us our sins. This was what He said to the paralyzed man. “My friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Jesus understood that the deepest healing that anyone needs is not physical healing. We just have to look around us. Many of us are healthy and strong and yet are most miserable and unhappy in this world. Yet, there are those who are of ill-health but are much more cheerful, positive and joyful. So the crux of the problem is that we are spiritually dis-ease and so are also physically sick. Forgiveness of sin brings about physical and emotional healing as well. This is the most important form of healing.
Secondly, because of the lack of faith. The scribes and the Pharisees were not receptive to the healing power of our Lord because they did not recognize Him as coming from God. “The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” To prove that He had the power to forgive sins, Jesus manifested His divine power of forgiveness by healing the man, since sickness was connected with sin and being healed indicated that he was freed from sin. Hence, Jesus said, “Which of these is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’ or to say ‘Get up and walk’? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralyzed man – ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’”
Indeed, it is faith that will allow the Lord to heal us deeply. In the first place, the Lord healed the paralyzed man not because of his faith – he then had no faith – but it was the living faith of those who carried him to be healed by Jesus. We can admire their faith which was put into love. (cf Gal 5:6) “Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralyzed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’” The faith of his friends brought Jesus’ desire to heal the man on account of their faith in Him. We can be sure too that the faith of his friends would have helped him to be open to the Lord. Faith inspires faith. When we are weak, the faith of others will inspire us. That is why sharing of what God has done for us in our lives is important because it inspires the faith of others. Whenever faith is present, the Lord will heal and show His power. Elizabeth said this of Mary, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Lk 1:45)
Thirdly, it is because we place limits on the power of God. The religious leaders could not go beyond their narrow mindset. They were constrained by their knowledge of the laws and traditions and so were unable to accept Jesus as the prophet of God. Those without faith will be skeptical. Those with faith are creative and resourceful. Where there is a will there is a way. They never give up, like the four men who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus. Finding no way to bring the paralyzed man to Jesus “as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus.” As the angel rightly said to Mary, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Lk 1:37)
So let us walk this Sacred Highway as the prophet asked of us. “And through it will run a highway undefiled which shall be called the Sacred Way; the unclean may not travel by it, nor fools stray along it. No lion will be there nor any fierce beast roam about it, but the redeemed will walk there, for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.” This Sacred Way is the way of faith and holiness. It is the way of justice and fidelity to God. The psalmist prays, “Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit. Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” When we seek to live a life of justice and truth, we will be able to praise God because there will be joy in our hearts. Indeed, we “will come to Zion shouting for joy, joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended.” Even in our struggles, let us walk in faith and in joy knowing that He will lead us to fullness of life.