In today’s gospel, Jesus focuses on healing the whole person from what paralyzes them.
On the reading’s surface, Jesus restores the man’s ability to walk. However, Jesus recognized that his paralysis was not just physical; he did not have the strength to make a positive act of faith. It was the faith and determination of the paralytic’s friends to which Jesus responded, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” That act of faith was missing from the story’s Pharisees, because they were consumed with authority and power, versus being reliant on Jesus.
All of us can be consumed by these things, taking us away from Jesus, which will paralyze us. There are times when we need help in asking for healing, or to help others to do so. Catholic Charities walks with people in need to help them overcome whatever ‘paralyzes’ them. People feel paralyzed due to things such as a lack of food, clothing, or shelter, which Catholic Charities can address. Often there are also underlying issues which keep them from achieving what they think is possible.
As we journey with them, we come to realize the caring and emotional support we give them will help overcome the other challenges — “the crowd” that keeps them from Jesus. This advent season, may we be open to Jesus’ coming into our hearts through those we are privileged to serve.
Brian Smith is the director of Parish Engagement for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He also serves on the Parish Social ministry team for Catholic Charities USA.