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This beautiful story of a paralyzed man being brought to Jesus, through the roof, gives us many of the components of transformation and healing. The word paralysis has a strong physical meaning for humans: not being able to move, either partially or completely. The word is also a powerful metaphor for being “stuck.” I may be overwhelmed with grief and loss because of the death of a beloved person or the end of a dream. I may suffer from depression that is either undiagnosed or resists treatment. I may have been hurt badly by someone at work, a spouse, or a community member and am filled with rage and a desire for revenge. Each of these in its own way will pull so much spiritual and emotional energy into its orbit that it will greatly diminish our productivity and joy in living.  

The paralytic cannot help himself—he needs the help of his friends. They bring him to Jesus and are not turned back. Jesus sees their faith and then speaks to the paralytic.  

When I am stuck in one of the above situations, so often it is a friend who walks with me, supporting me but also challenging me to do some inner work, to be open to a new future that moves me toward help and healing. For Jesus, in the new reign of God, forgiveness and healing are two sides of the same coin. Jesus heals us “through and through,” like the total transformation of the desert that Isaiah describes.  

The question for me, for us, always is: Am I willing to come to Jesus? Do I want to be freed of paralysis?  

© Liturgical Press.

John Klassen, OSB

John Klassen, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

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