Today’s gospel story is both a powerful and perplexing one (Matthew 9:1-8). It is one of many stories of healing by Jesus where he heals in the face of challenges by the powers that be or prevailing wisdom.
It is also quite simple in a way. Friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus. Jesus knows what is possible. “Courage,” he says to the man. He lifts the weight of sin from the man, telling him that his sins are forgiven. That draws the ire of some scribes, who thought Jesus to be presumptuous at best and blasphemous at worst. So Jesus draws on his practical side and tells the man to do what he knows he can now do. Rise and walk. And he does.
It is a story recorded long ago of a healing from a physical ailment, paralysis. Yet it speaks to me and maybe it speaks to you. My own inner critics doubt whether I am really healed, whether I can really rise and walk into whatever lies ahead. Sometimes it is as if I am paralyzed by my own ailments which weigh me down, anxieties or self doubt or any other mix of worries and woes and wounds. Am I paralyzed by what I am sure is not possible, or do I choose to live in the light of possibility and hope that is the way to peace?
One key to the story for me is that the man is brought to Jesus by his friends. He is strengthened and supported and brought to new life by community. He also responds to the loving action of Jesus, stepping literally into possibility.
And so I pray for faith, to truly live as if I believe that all things are possible through Jesus. I pray that I may stand with those close to me on their path to freedom, and accept their love and accompaniment on mine.
Rise and walk.