One day our Lord was traveling to His own city and a paralytic was brought to Him. Instead of healing the man from his illness, Christ dared to say, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9.2) In return for this great gift the crowd accused Christ of blasphemy. Can you imagine a group of people worrying more about physical health than the forgiveness of sin? Fortunately for the crowd, Christ loved them enough to provide what they needed to believe in Him. “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’” (Matthew 9.6)
Over the past eighteen months, our society more than ever has become hyper-focused on health above every other part of life, even our souls. The pandemic has consumed our daily lives. Between face mask mandates and vaccination protests, our society seems to have forgotten that life is more than just physical health. We seem to have forgotten that we are body AND soul, and we need to tend to both to be truly healthy.
Sickness is ultimately a symptom of sin in the world. It isn’t that sickness is directly caused by sin, but that sin creates a world in which sickness thrives. Ever since Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden, our world has been infected with death and disease. As sinful human beings, we find ourselves in a daily struggle against sin and sickness. Sometimes sickness wins, and other times sin wins, and still other days, both sin and sickness take their toll on our lives. Then there are those special days when we win, and sin is forgiven and sickness is healed as in today’s Gospel story.
While our society dwells on improving our physical safety during the pandemic, it gives us a chance to refocus our lives on a proper perspective. It should give us a chance to spend more time with God. If we are not careful, we will replace medicine with God in our desire to avoid death. Christ promises eternal life, but not eternal life on earth. That means Christ did not promise a life without sickness. He promised a life focused on the forgiveness of sins and communion with God in heaven.
The paralytic eventually died, even though he had been healed by God that day, but because Christ forgave his sins, he was given a chance of eternal life. We will eventually die either of old age or sickness, but we will die. If we want to live forever with God, then we must keep focused on God Who will give us what we need. He knows when we need healing and when we need forgiveness, and sometimes we need both.