They stripped the roof and lowered the stretcher with the man sick of the palsy in front of Jesus, who was in the house.
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“YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN”
‘And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And, when they could not offer him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof, where he was: and opening it they let down the bed whereon the man sick of the palsy lay’ [Mk 2:3-4].
Humility and poverty, patience and obedience, are the four who bring the soul to Jesus, as it lies helpless in carnal pleasure.
And because they cannot bring it because of the crowd of pressing desires of the flesh, they strip the roof and open it, and let down the bed with the palsied man in front of Jesus. The roof is a fourfold one: of pride, avarice, stubbornness and anger, the leaky roof spoken of by Ecclesiasticus [cf. Proverbs 19:13], blinding the eye of reason.
Isaiah says: ‘What aileth thee also, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?’ [Is 22:1];
and David: ‘Let them be as grass upon the tops of houses’, etc. [Ps 128:6].
This roof, covering and obscuring the face of the soul so that it cannot see the light of justice, the four virtues mentioned strip by contrition of heart, and open in oral confession; thus they let down before Jesus, trusting in Jesus’ mercy, both soul and body in the satisfaction of penance.
No-one can come to Jesus, unless he is carried by these four virtues. As the Gloss says, ‘He is carried by four, who is lifted to God by four virtues, with a trusting mind.
The Book of Wisdom says: ‘She teaches sobriety and wisdom and justice and virtue’ [cf. Wisd. 8:7], (which others call prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice).
ON FAITH: JESUS SEEING HIS FAITH.
‘And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son. Thy sins are forgiven thee.’
The Gloss says: ‘His own faith is strengthened by God, where only that of others had been strong; so that being healed within and without, the man arose, and his errors were forgiven him by the merits of others.
What wonderful humility!
Despised by men, helpless in all his limbs, he is called ‘son’, at any rate, he is certainly such because his sins are forgiven.’
Note these three points: seeing their faith, ‘Be of good heart, son’, and ‘Thy sins are forgiven’.
Faith without love is empty; a Christian’s faith is with love.
Take note: it is one thing to ‘believe God’, another to ‘believe that’ there is a God, and another to ‘believe in’ God.
To ‘believe God’ is to believe that what he says is true, which bad people may do; and we may believe a man, without believing in him. To ‘believe’ in the second sense is to believe in his existence, that he is God; and the devils do this.
To ‘believe in’ God is by believing to love him, to go to him, to adhere to him and be incorporated into his members [the Church, His body].
By this faith, the wicked man is justified. Where there is this sort of faith, there is trust in God’s mercy and remission of sin.‘And, behold, some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth’ [Mt 9:3].
Because they do not believe Jesus to be true God, they say he blasphemes by forgiving sins. ‘And Jesus, seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ [Mt 9:4].
The word is ‘cogitating’, a deliberate recalling to mind. Jesus sees their thoughts; as Hebrews says:
‘All things are naked and open to his eyes’ [Heb 4:13];
and Ecclesiasticus:‘The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun,beholding round about all the ways of men,and the bottom of the deep,and looking into the hearts,into the most hidden parts.For all things were known to the Lord God before they were created:so also after they were perfected he beholdeth all things’ [Ecclus 23:28-29].
So, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ The prophet Micah called down woe on those who pondered evil in their beds, and performed it at morning light [cf. Mic 2:1].
When we dwell with mental pleasure, and consent to evil, in our ‘beds’ (our hearts), we perform that evil in the morning light, before the Lord’s eyes, even if we do not in fact carry it out. He who looks on a woman to lust after her (that is, who looks on her in such a way that he lusts for her) has already committed adultery with her in his heart [cf. Mt 5:28].
The scribes could have known that he was God, from the very fact that he saw their thoughts. ‘Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?’ [Mt 9:5].
The Gloss says, ‘Because you would not believe this spiritual truth, it is proved by a visible sign of no less power; that you might know the hidden power and majesty in the Son of man, in as much as he can forgive sins like God.’The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause:
‘Putting away lying, speak ye the truth, every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil’ [Eph 4:25-27].
We said just now that there are four virtues that carry the paralysed soul to Jesus, humility, poverty, patience and obedience; by which we put away the four things spoken of by the Apostle.
By humility, we put away the lying of pride or vainglory, which lies by claiming to be something, whereas it is nothing. Lying is deceiving another’s mind.
‘Speak ye the truth’, by love of poverty. Why is it that nowadays almost everyone speaks falsely to his neighbour, if not from avarice? This is what divides from one another those who should be members of Christ.
‘Be angry’ with yourselves, by repentance, ‘and sin not’. The angry man thinks evil, and so the devil gets into him, to perform evil deeds. Patience is necessary, to drive out anger. Alternatively, ‘Be angry’ means, show such vehement indignation towards yourselves that you desist from sin. Let not the sun which is Christ set, by deserting your mind. He is obscured from us by anger, as by a mountain standing in the way.
Here, then, is why the Apostle invites us to have patience. He also invites us to obedience, saying ‘Give not place to the devil’. When the first man fell into disobedience, he gave place to the devil. You must obey, because obedience shuts out the devil, and he cannot get into the soul.
We ask you, then, Lord Jesus Christ, to put away the lying of our pride; to drive out our avarice by poverty; to break our anger with patience; and to crush our disobedience by the obedience of your Passion. By this, may we be presented to you, and receive the forgiveness of our sins; and be made fit to rejoice with you for ever. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen. (by St Anthony of Padua)