5 July 2007. Thursday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time Matthew 9, 1-8: Healing of the Paralytic
We always say in the religious studies of Jesus that he was radical. In fact, he became popular because he was daring and witty. He would challenge the teachings of the rabbis and the centuries-old belief system of the Jews.
The Gospel today illustrates his wit. In Palestine there was a belief that all sickness was due to sins. Rabbi Alexander said, “The sick arises not from his sickness, until his sins are forgiven.” Rabbi Chija ben Abba also said, “No sick person is cured from sickness, until all his sins are forgiven him.” Therefore, physical healing is the manifestation that one’s sins have been forgiven.
So when Jesus said that the man’s sins were forgiven, the scribes doubted the authority of Jesus to forgive sins. They accused him of blaspheming. To convince them, Jesus popped this question to the scribes: “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or “Rise and walk’?” That means, if Jesus would be able to physically cure the paralyzed man, then Jesus had proven that He could forgive sins, confirming his claims. And he did!
In the advent of technology and the advancement of medicine, we all know that this Jewish belief is not 100% true. Sicknesses are caused by bacteria, a virus, an organ malfunction or a combination. However there is also some truth that our health also reveals the conditions of our minds. Jesus healed both the spiritual condition of the paralyzed man, as well as his physical malady. When we are troubled, confused, or guilt-ridden, it shows in our bodies. When we are stressed, our bodies adapt to it: when it is about our responsibilities, our shoulders ache; when it is about unwanted feelings, our middle back tightens; when it is about our sexual and relational anxieties, it gets to our lower back. Many of our sicknesses are psychosomatic.
Thus, our bodies may tell us what needs healing in our lives. The body part that aches may point to a certain internal wound that we have to face. Our faith tells us that our total self constitutes our well-being.