Jesus got back into the boat, crossed the lake again, and came to his hometown. Here they brought a paralyzed man to him, lying on a bed. Jesus saw their faith and said to the paralytic, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”
Some teachers of the Law said within themselves, “This man insults God.” Jesus was aware of what they were thinking, and said, “Why have you such evil thoughts? Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” He then said to the paralyzed man, “Stand up! Take your stretcher and go home.” The man got up, and went home.
When the crowds saw this, they were filled with awe and praised God for giving such power to human beings.
Psychosomatic medicine has made us aware of the profound unity existing between body and soul. It tells us that practically all our mental states (stress, worry, anger, lust, hate, boredom, jealousy, etc.) have repercussions on our bodies, from the rising of our blood pressure to ulcers, insomnia, backache and indigestion. Even total paralysis of the body, according to psychopathology, can result from a mental disorder such as, for example, an excessive fear of responsibility, a morbid need for attention or a masochistic desire for punishment.
Today’s gospel reading presents Jesus as reacting strangely when asked to heal a paralysed man. He first forgives the man’s sins, instead of immediately healing his paralysis. Was it because the man’s previous lifestyle was deeply disordered and had brought about his state of paralysis as a sort of unconscious censorship? We shall never know. But this gospel episode suggests that Jesus was aware that our sins affect our bodies as well as our souls in some mysterious way. The present high incidence of venereal diseases such as AIDS and STDs should serve as a salutary reminder of this fact. So much for lust. But gluttony can also partially explain a lot of cases of obesity. And what about our frenzied pursuit of money, power, popularity? Can it not explain a good number of heart attacks and untimely deaths?
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