In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
What has the event related today in the Gospel (St.
Matthew IX: l-8) to do with us? Who of us is aware of being paralysed?
And who of us has the faith, a calm and yet passionate certainty that no
one but God can give us again the freedom of our movements?
This story is not a parable, it is an event; but it also
conveys to us something more than the power of God to heal physical
sickness if we come to Him with faith; that is having put aside all
other hope but knowing for certain that our life and our death, our
health and our sickness are in the hand of the Living God Who has chosen
to become man in our midst, to share with us everything, including death
and pain, including agony of mind and all the horror which may strike us
when we look at the surrounding world, the world which we have made and
But there is another aspect in this story to which I
want to attract your attention. Who of us can say that he is not
paralysed? Paralysed by fear, paralysed by the desire to be seen in the
best of lights, paralysed by our calculations that do not allow us to
act freely, to breathe freely, to be fearless? How many of us could dare
say that they are not possessed of the desire to be seen better than
they are, to be seen as they are not, as God does not see us? How many
of us could say, ЂI want to be seen as I am Ч not only in all my frailty
(this, others could accept), but in my deceitfulness, in my ugliness,
full of fear, full of vanityї, that is, of the desire to be judged on
appearances and not on the reality?
And yet, Saint John of the Ladder says that one who is
possessed of vanity is arrogant in the face of God while he is a coward
in the face of men.
How many of us live continuously measuring our words,
calculating our actions, thinking of the result; not only aiming at a
good result but afraid of how people will judge us? How afraid we are to
look at ourselves and see the truth about our own selves, no longer to
look into the distorted mirror that shows us to ourselves and others as
beautiful, acceptable, noble, pure Ч but in another mirror, the mirror
of our conscience, the mirror of God's words and of God's judgement of
which we are aware, but from which we avert our gaze? How many of us,
when we catch a glimpse of what we are, do not allow this shaft of light
to go beyond a frightened awareness and fall into our hearts to search
the darkest corners of it, the deepest corners to which light has not
penetrated, which love has never reached, in which the truth has never
sounded? How many of us are honest enough to judge themselves, their
actions, incipient or fulfilled, in the light of truth?
We are all paralysed: paralysed by fear, paralysed by
calculations, paralysed by the determination not to see because we are
afraid of what we may see. We still, all of us, imagine that we can live
the life of a paralytic and die whole; that we may live a whole life
never having faced the truth, and stand before God Who is the Truth Ч
and be acceptable. Oh, it is not a matter of God rejecting us! It is a
matter of suddenly discovering, with horror, that we have no place in
the realm of Truth, in the realm of daring Truth, in the realm of
beauty, of heroic beauty.
Let us reflect on this; let us not think of the man who
was paralysed and whose faith healed his body by the power of God; let
us think of our own paralysed condition. After one of my last sermons, I
was asked by someone, ЂWhy is it that your last
sermon was so stern?ї I can answer in all
honesty: because for months and months I have been searching my own
soul, confronting my own conscience, and seeing with horror that I live
a lie, that I am not a Christian according to the Gospel, that I stand
condemned not only by the Gospel itself, but by what I look like as a
Christian. Yes, what I am saying is what I feel about myself; but do you
not feel similar things, even if you are infinitely more worthy of God
than I am? Do you not feel that, more or less, we all sin in the same
way, that we all betray our own self which is called to be a revelation
of God, a visible image, a divine presence incarnate in soul, in body,
in action and word, in thought and feeling, in intention and result Ч do
we not see that? I do! And what I say is a confession Ч yes, but a
confession which is addressed to all of you: this is what I see in
myself Ч LOOK at yourselves: we still perhaps have time to become true
and real as God has willed us, to be what God dreams we should be, to
respond to His love by not betraying ourselves, one another and Him.
And there is hope, there is hope because God has the
power to heal, God has the power to break our palsy if we turn to Him
with faith, and hope and courage! Amen