Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to [the paralytic], ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.'”
Today’s Gospel account is one of the few occasions when Jesus cures someone because of the faith of others. Because of the faith of the people who lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, Jesus forgives his sins and heals him. What a gift those faith-filled people gave to the crippled man!
The text does not indicate why the paralytic had no faith. People lose their faith for many reasons. Perhaps the paralytic did believe but could not communicate it. Perhaps the fact that he was paralyzed caused him to doubt.
The key may be in the way that Jesus tenderly addresses the paralytic with the term “Child.” Perhaps Jesus is touching the heart of what had been ruptured in the paralytic due due to his physical infirmity — his relationship with God as his Father who is taking care of him.
This passage, then, speaks volumes to me. It indicates to me that God wants to relate to my as my Father as well. At times, my own faith has been paralyzed. When my heart has ached because of grief, when my faith has been shattered because I could not understand the illness of a loved one, I too have doubted that God is my Father. At those times when my faith lay helpless, someone else’s faith may have been carrying me. It is comforting to know that at those times in my life, other carried me in their faith.
When we are in the presence of another whose faith is paralyzed, it is often so difficult to know what to do, what words of encouragement we can offer to strengthen another’s faith. This passage, then, is a consoling one. It tells us that in those moments we can believe for others — we can carry them in our faith. And Jesus will somehow allow them to hear him speak the word, “Child,” and restore them.
Father! Thank you for revealing yourself to us as a Father. Help me to see the many ways that you are taking care of me, providing for me, watching over me with fatherly love and concern. So many ways that you do this are hidden to me, especially the ones that are so ordinary — the sun’s warm touch, the wind’s cool breath, the water’s comforting embrace. May these tangible elements that you have created remind me again and again of your love for me as my creator — my Father. Amen.
Child, you are precious in my eyes and I love you (see Isaiah 43:4).