At that time, Jesus entered Capernaum and it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak thus? It is a blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your pallet and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins"-he said to the paralytic-"I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" (Mark 2:1-12). Four friends carried a paralytic man to Christ to heal him. The house where Jesus was preaching was full of people. It was impossible to enter through the door. They climbed on the roof and they destroyed part of the roof in order to be able to approach from the top down and lay him in front of Jesus. When He saw the faith of the paralytic and his friends he told him in public that his sins were forgiven. At once the Jews were scandalised thinking: “Who is he to forgive sins?” Christ knew their thoughts and he said to the paralytic: “That you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And so it happened. He got up right away, he took his bed and left while they were all watching him.
From the Gospel’s meanings we can draw helpful thoughts for both ourselves and our immediate environment. What could we think then about the present reading from the Holy Gospel? We could say that the scene described in the Gospel with Jesus and all the people surrounding Him, was like a church gathering. The house was transfigured to a church. What was happening in this house is exactly what is happening in our church today. There were some people with unshakable faith, like the ones who brought forth the paralytic to be healed, but there were also people who were scandalised; the ones who were thinking: “Who is He to forgive sins?” Because we are faithful, it is beneficial to have the knowledge of why we go to church. We should be going for our own salvation and not to see what everyone else does there and judge them. We shouldn’t forget the reason we go to church, because instead of increasing in our sanctification, we decrease.
The Lord complimented the faith of five people. The paralytic and the four who carried him there. We could say that these four carrying him were his friends. Even if they were his relatives, they still had with him a very close relationship. They didn’t just get him inside, but they had the faith - the madness - to destroy someone’s roof in order to get him inside. They destroyed a family’s roof. And of course they were justified afterwards, but they didn’t care about the consequences of their act. They did something extreme to force God to perform a miracle. They were brave enough to destroy the roof, totally and only based on their faith in Christ and their love for the paralytic. There was no logic involved. No reservations. Absolute straightforwardness. Just imagine the embarrassment, and how the uneasy crowd could have made fun of them in case the miracle did not end up happening.
Our friends’ faith can support and encourage us on the way to our salvation, but also the opposite. It can slow us down and demolish us. It can drag us to the wastage of our soul. In other words, our association with people of little faith and people who get scandalised easily can destroy us. This is why we say: “Show me your friends and I tell you who you are”. Even a strong and faithful person within our friends is enough to positively influence the whole group.
As soon as Jesus saw the paralytic’s and his friends’ faith, He told him: “Your sins are forgiven”. No one had mentioned anything about sins, and no one asked for forgiveness. They asked for something else and at first the Lord gave them something different. Understanding their faith, He gave them the one and only thing that mattered. Health comes second. The healing of the body simply was the proof and the seal of the healing of the paralytic’s soul. It was like a positive side-effect of the soul’s healing. Sometimes the troubles in our lives, like the paralysis here, come because of our sins. If we learn our lesson and repent, there is no longer a reason for the sickness. Either we willingly humble ourselves to be cured in our soul and our body, or God might humble us with some illness, out of love and concern for our salvation.
Another thing that we notice reading this passage is that when Jesus says something, His words are not just words. His words are words and actions. He said to the paralytic: “get up and walk” and His words became action. He literally got up and walked. His word created the universe. If God says something, it happens automatically. So, when the priest says during the Sacrament of Confession: “your sins are forgiven”, your sins are literally forgiven. When during the Wedding Service the priest says: “this man is married to this woman”, God gives His Blessing and the two become one. If we cannot understand that the Sacraments, through the priest, are God’s words that have the authority and become actions, we have no idea what happens within the church. So, God’s words are not just words, but they are words and actions. If we don’t see miracles from these words in our everyday life, there is a chance we are spiritual paralytics. We do not have the faith of the paralytic and his friends. We should support and carry our weak fellow men, in body and soul, when and as much as possible. This way, if we ever end up ourselves being weak, God will send us people able to support our weakness. But how could we ever imitate the paralytic’s friends and carry a fellow man? We can give an example that happened in our days. There was a holy man in Mount Athos who, when he first went to become a monk, was under a very harsh Elder. He was fully obedient to him for decades. When the Elder passed away, he was not in a good spiritual state. The holy disciple sensed the situation and he prayed for him a great deal. At the end, his prayer was heard and he helped enormously the soul of his departed Elder to find eternal rest.
If our prayer alone is able to help the departed ones, imagine what more we could do for the living. Our grandfather’s and our grandmother’s prayers are not wasted. The problem, unfortunately, is what we give to the next generation. The problem is what we will pass on to the ones we love. And the problem is whether we direct the ones we love, our children and our families, towards Christ or, without even realising it, we pull them away from Christ and basically push them towards the devil and the loss of their soul. When we ourselves have doubts in our faith, when we choose the easy way of life, when we possess only materialistic targets and intensions, when we have sick emotions and we influence our family accordingly, then we do not direct them towards God but the opposite direction. It is like pulling an octopus from eight different sides. Unavoidably, it will break into eight pieces. Without realising it, this is what we often do to the ones around us, instead of carrying them forward to Christ. The paralytic’s friends carried him in front of the Lord. Automatically his sins were forgiven. If we, for example, discourage our children, our grandchildren and our friends from confessing, we do the exact opposite. We drag them with their hands and feet away from Christ. If we ourselves tell them: “Why do you have to say all your sins to the priest? God knows them anyway”, we do exactly what the devil himself would have done to them.
When our thoughts are not according to God’s will, they multiply in a demonic way when we pass them on to the others. They then start pulling apart the poor person from every possible corner. Multiply chopped this way, and with a split personality, these thoughts - our thoughts – tie them under satan’s feet.