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July 24, 2022

Homily on the Sixth Sunday of Matthew (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"Jesus, seeing their faith (those who brought the paralytic), said to the paralytic: 'Be of good cheer, child!'" (Matthew 9:2).

Once they brought to Jesus Christ in Capernaum a sick and paralyzed man. The sick man was so weak that not only could he not walk, but he could not utter a word, he could not ask Jesus Christ for his healing. And therefore Jesus healed him for the sake of the faith of others, for the sake of those who brought him. They asked Jesus Christ to heal him, already by their zeal when they brought him to Jesus Christ. And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic: "Be of good cheer, child!" The sick man was silent, did not ask, because he could not: he only entrusted himself to others - did not prevent them from carrying himself, and only mentally asked them to carry him to Jesus Christ.

So, listeners, when you cannot, are unable to ask God yourself, or for some reason do not dare to ask, or do not hope to beg, then entrust yourself to others so that they pray for you - if not in words, then at least mentally ask about it. The Lord, for the sake of the prayer of others, will still help you, as if you yourself were praying to Him, just as He helped the paralytic, who was brought for the sake of faith. When you can’t pray yourself, ask others to pray for you. And the saints, when they lived on earth, considered it necessary for themselves to resort to the prayerful aid of others, not only out of a sense of their humility, but also out of the consciousness of their weaknesses. The Holy Apostle Paul implored the faithful to labor with him in prayers to God for him (see: Romans 15:30).

Who else should we ask? Everyone who prays, especially those who are closer to God and who are more disposed towards us. Those who are closer to God, God will hear them sooner; those who love us more will pray for us more fervently. Mostly ask the clergy of the Church. They always stand before the throne of God, therefore, they are close to God, at least in terms of their rank; they are set by God Himself to pray for everyone, therefore, God will hear them sooner than anyone else. And that is why the holy Apostle James writes: "Is any of you sick, let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him" (James 5:14).

Ask others to pray for you; ask others, and pray for others yourself. By our prayer for another, we can also arouse him to pray for us, and thus we, according to the commandment of the Apostle James, will pray for each other (see: James 5:14); and such mutual prayer, as an expression of mutual love, can do a lot. When we are for each other, then God is for all of us. And how comforting it is that we can pray for others and that through our prayer God can show them His grace and mercy!

How can you help someone else? You suffer with him, you mourn for him. Oh, but sometimes you suffer more than him, you grieve because of him, there is nothing to help. So that's how you can help - prayer. Pray for him, and God will send him help for you, which you are unable to give him. And any benefit to another must be done with prayer; with prayer, alms must be given; give and mentally say: "Let it serve him favorably." Then our benefit will be better, more effective. Our prayer gives life and strength to everything that is ours.

Let's make another remark for ourselves now. Jesus Christ, intending to heal the paralytic, first forgave his sins, and then healed him of his illness. Why? Because, without a doubt, the cause of the illness of the paralytic was his sins: for his sins or from sins, he became sick. Yes, it is not without our fault that we get sick, but either for sins, or from sins, or, at least, without fail for our salvation, for saving us from sins. If the other did not have an illness, he might be a great sinner. The eyes of the Lord see our uncommitted sins.

So, in an illness, pray for health to be sent down to you, and immediately ask for forgiveness for sins known and unknown, voluntary and involuntary. "My sins, Lord, forgive, and help me to recover." Then you will get better soon. Even if you don’t get well soon, don’t stop praying and repenting anyway. God sometimes for a long time, no matter how we ask Him, does not deliver us from sickness and weakness, in order to at least accustom us to prayer and repentance. If you do not recover at all, then there will be no loss for you: you will acquire the habit of prayer and repentance, and in repentance - our salvation, and in prayer - our spiritual health.

When in illness you pray to God with tears of repentance, then you forget, you don’t feel that you are sick, that you are unwell, and you would all stand before God, you would all pray and cry before Him, even all your life, even all eternity, so prayer elevates , revitalizes, strengthens, delights a person. After all, we also need health in order to have the strength to pray and repent of sins, and we need as much health as we need for prayers and for repentance. Therefore, when I do not recover from an illness, but I can repent of sins and pray, and I really pray and repent, then I am calm, I do not lose heart. It can be seen that I will be saved even without health, when God has not given me health until now. Apparently, I don’t need health to save my soul.

Everything - whether health, whether weakness, whether poverty, whether learning and education, whether ignorance, whether high dignity, whether low rank - everything is valued according to what is useful or harmful to us for the salvation of our souls. If my illness serves me to renew my soul, if it does not prevent me from serving God and repenting of sins, then it is dearer to me than any health. And what about that health, which does not help me in the salvation of my soul, in which I do not pray to God, do not cry for sins? Yes, health is a good, dear blessing, when it is saving for the soul, and illness is no worse than health, even better than fasting and prayer, when the ill bear it with gratitude to God and with the consciousness of their sins.

Send me, Lord, health, send as much health as I need for the salvation of my soul, as much as I need so that I can pray and repent. If I can, if I have the strength to repent of my sins and pray to You for myself and others, then I have enough health. I would like to live in prayer and repentance, and then die with repentance and prayer! Send me such people who would pray to You with zeal for me, at least four such as that paralyzed one, at least three, two, at least one only: for one righteous, fervent prayer can do a lot. Amen.