Holy Metropolis of Serbia and Kozani
Second Sunday of the Fast
(Saint Gregory Palamas)
By Fr. A.K.G.
The period of Great Lent, my brethren, is an ecclesiastical period of intense spiritual struggle, in which the Church very wisely raises us up step by step up the steps of the ladder to our spiritual perfection and our preparation for the great and holy days of the Passion and the Resurrection of our Lord. This Sunday, the second of the Fast, the Church has appointed to be read from the Gospel the healing of the paralytic of Capernaum, seeking through it to teach us that Christ is the only one who can redeem us from sin and its consequences.
What we find at the beginning of the Gospel reading is that the paralyzed man is brought before Jesus not from his own desire but because of the faith of his four friends in the power of Jesus. The paralytic himself, probably because of his sin which has become a burden on his conscience, does not desire to communicate with the Lord. Jesus however "saw their faith" (that of his four friends) and went ahead to do the miracle. The love and faith of the four friends was the reason and grounds for the paralytic to be healed.
Making a comparison with today we will find that it is this faith of the community that is missing from our lives. When someone speaks of faith today they mean the personal and individual faith of a particular person and not the faith of his family, of society or of the church where he belongs. If it is expected in a fallen world for sin and denial to exist, equally dramatic is the fact is that there are not some friends, some relatives, a community who with their faith and love can draw the mercy of our compassionate God, so that a miracle would take place.
Faith and sanctification are ecclesiological events and are transferred to the whole world. Within the ecclesiastical community individual perception has no place, rather the community operates soteriologically when the members take care to be sanctified out of love for one another, such as when they know that someone else is praying for them out of love. Besides a miracle may not only have a relation with the healing of the disease but also with the change in our manner of life and behavior towards others.
So when the four friends brought the paralytic before Jesus, He acts in a way that is strange to us. While He has before Him a man who is physically suffering, He forgives his sins! For God and the Church, man must be dealt with as a totality and in unity, since the entire man is saved and on the journey towards the Kingdom of God. This is why for Jesus it would be inconceivable to heal him only physically and not care about his soul, or vice versa. The Lord as Savior saves all of human nature and assumes the whole human being as a unity in order to restore us to our ancient beauty of Paradise. Therefore He also gives physical health to the paralytic, having first healed his soul. Jesus knows that sin wears down the body and the soul, which is why when He heals, first He intervenes in the area of sin and then in the area of physical illness.
My beloved, sin has penetrated so deep in our lives, that is has managed to impair how we operate. Christ, however, came precisely to crush this demonic and catastrophic operation, offering first the healing of the soul and then the healing of the body. And the various lessons from the Gospel, like that of today, which refer to the miracles of Jesus, are not intended to project the tragedy of sin, but the great redemptive message of the salvific presence of Christ in the world. Amen.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.