At Mass today, the priest-homilist gave a wonderful reflection on the gospel for this day (Mt 9:1-8), one I never really considered. In the gospel story, a paralytic is brought in by friends in the hopes that Jesus would heal him. Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven. which gives the onlooking scribes dark thoughts. Then, to prove His legitimate ability to forgive sins, He physically heals the man, leaving the crowd awestruck.
Christoph Murer, Swiss, 1558 – 1614, The Paralytic Healed by Christ Picks up His Pallet, woodcut on laid paper
The priest pointed out that Jesus did not base the forgiveness and healing on the disabled man’ s faith, but rather on his friends’. Maybe he read the man’s heart, saw a skeptical expression on his face, or even heard him complaining or doubting. Yet, the unfortunate man’s faithful friends were enough to move Jesus. Do you think that man ever looked at those companions in the same way ever again?
This is a call for us to bring to prayer family, friends, and acquaintances who seem to have little faith or explicitly say they are agnostic or atheist. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are praying for them or have remembered them at Mass. If someone is ill, or particularly troubled in any way, drop him a Mass card to let him know you are thinking of him and that he is receiving many — and ongoing — prayers. Whether or not a healing occurs or the problem is resolved, the prayers and thoughtfulness you engender are bound to have an impact. This is not something you should pound over the heads of others. But, by living your faith, and sharing its importance, you may well win over a soul for Christ and have a faith-full friend for life.
I’m quite sure the (former) paralytic went away permanently changed in body and soul. Through God’s grace so will the skeptics in your life.