The Healing of a Paralytic

“The Healing of a Paralytic”
Mark 2:1-12 “in a snailshell”
Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”— he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Mark 2:1-12

How many in the crowds clamoring for Christ’s attention sought the forgiveness of sins? The first words of Jesus to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven,” were probably unexpected  and stirred up charges of blasphemy among the scribes who were surveilling him. Bodily healing was tolerated by the authorities (except on the sabbath), and at times instigated slander that Beelzebul’s power was involved, but the pardoning of sins crossed the inviolable line between Creator and creature. 

Jesus, to all appearances, was a mere man: “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” 

None of the other healing episodes in the Gospels is preceded by the forgiveness of sins. This unique instance forced the issue of Jesus’ identity. Prophets like Elijah and Elisha healed the sick and raised the dead, but neither forgave sins. Signs and wonders were expected of a prophet, but a holy man humbled himself as a sinner before God. Jesus, instead, forgave sinners in the place of God. 

The bodily healing of the paralytic was offered as evidence of Jesus’ authority to forgive sins: But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”— he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” 

Jesus was either more than a prophet because he was the Son of God, or he was less than a prophet—an unholy blasphemer whose power to heal came from an ungodly source. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” confessed Simon Peter after many months of discipleship (Matthew 16:16). Such wisdom came not from “flesh and blood” but from “my heavenly Father” (Matthew 16:17). 

At the Last Supper, Jesus appealed to his works as secondary evidence of his divine Sonship: “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:11).

Jesus’ signs and wonders were a testament to his identity as the Son of God, but not a rational “proof.” For the things of the Spirit exceed the rational plane and must be discerned spiritually, beyond reason and logic. “No one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Those who live on the “fleshly” plane demand proof like infants (1 Corinthians 3:1).

When four friends lowered a paralytic through the roof,
The authority of Jesus was put to the proof.

2 Replies to “The Healing of a Paralytic”

  1. Are we to assume the paralytic person has faith in Jesus? If the faith of the 4 friends sufficed, then faith is transferable.

    1. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1510:
      However, the apostolic Church has its own rite for the sick, attested to by St. James: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders [presbyters] of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” Tradition has recognized in this rite one of the seven sacraments.

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