Posted by: fvbcdm | December 20, 2015

Feast of Many Vietnamese Martyrs (19 December 2015)

In the gospel, we find a bizarre episode in which a group of men, filled with faith, made a hole in the roof of a Galilean house and lowered through that hole a paralyzed friend of theirs whom they wanted Jesus to heal. There are several levels of meaning in this story.

As the paralyzed man is lowered before Our Lord, Jesus first says to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” The ever-critical Pharisees present are offended by Our Lord’s implied claim that he has the authority to forgive sin. Reading their thoughts, he says to them: What is easier: to say “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk”? But to show you that he could forgive sins, he then said to the paralytic: rise, take up your mat, and walk. And the totally crippled man did just that.

So here we have a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah which is given in the first reading: the lame will leap like a stag in the kingdom of the Messiah that is to come.

This reminds me of the classical riddle that is supposed to have been proposed by the sphynx to those passing by: which animal is it that walks first on four legs, then on two, and then on three? The correct answer was: Man. First, we crawl; then we walk; and then we use a cane — or nowadays, maybe a walker or even a motorized wheelchair. But when Jesus restores to the crippled man the ability to walk normally, he is giving him a great gift, and is proving not only that he can forgive sin, but that he can work miracles of physical healing which are prophecies in action of the youth and health and agility that all of us will enjoy in heaven.

This is especially meaningful to me as I get older and am experiencing disequilibrium which none of the doctors I’ve consulted seem able to treat successfully. So I remain unsteady, and exercise care in walking, climbing stairs, etc. I am quite sure that Our Lord could cure my problem with a word, but I cannot expect that kind of miraculous cure. I am just very happy to look forward to the eternal youth and good health of heaven, to which we are invited to look forward during this holy season of Advent as we anticipate the coming of the Lord. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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