Have you ever been paralyzed? This could be physical, emotional, or spiritual paralyzation. I think many of us have been paralyzed at some time or another. We know the agony that comes with desiring to do something but not being able to will ourselves to do it. So there we sit, stuck in a rut or flat on a mat, waiting for something or someone to heal us.
Do you know someone who is paralyzed right now? Again, this could be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Do you know someone who is depressed and cannot lift themselves out of the darkness? Do you know someone who is deep in debt and cannot find his or her way out? Do you know someone one who has left the Faith and now wonders if God even exists? Do you know someone who has just been through surgery or is going to go through surgery and is losing hope, is becoming paralyzed by the fear of what life will be like tomorrow? Do you know someone who is paralyzed?
In today's Gospel we are given specific instructions on what to do with our paralyzed friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers. We are to bring them to Jesus. This doesn't necessarily mean bringing them physically into the Church building or asking them to accept Christ into their heart as Lord and King. This means to bring them before the Divine Physician in prayer. Like the friends of the paralyzed man in the Gospel - "they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus." By interceding for those we love who are paralyzed we are placing them before Jesus.
However, we should also be prepared for obstacles in our intercessory prayer. The men in the Gospel faced what appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle, a crowd around Jesus. Yet, they found a way to "lift him up" even higher so that they might place him before the Lord.
As we draw closer to Christmas, let us seek those in our life who are paralyzed in some form and let us work to bring them before the Lord. Let us lift them up in prayer and let us pray that we may all hear the words of Christ, "Your sins are forgiven, rise, take up your mat and go home." And when we are healed or when our neighbor is healed let us also follow the example of the formerly paralyzed man and go "home, glorifying God!"
"A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer,