His Mercy Continues

I was sad on the closing day of the Year of Mercy. I missed too many opportunities to take the name of a deceased soul to the Holy Doors, to pray, and to obtain for him a plenary indulgence. I procrastinated once again. I’m writing this on the vigil of the Feast of St. Nicholas, and today’s gospel reading seemed rather out-of-place for Advent, until I listened. 

Today, my heart heard something new. It was the continuing message of mercy:

“And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. 
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus. 
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”  Luke 5:18-20

It’s another gospel about faith, and healing, and Jesus performing a miracle to prove his authority, his love, and even his identity. But this healing seems almost to focus more on “them,” the men who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus. The men brought on a stretcher a man… they were trying to bring him in… they went up on the roof… they lowered him on the stretcher…

And of course, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’” 

This is a different kind of mercy! This mercy is granted in part because of the great faith of someone else. Yes, Jesus forgave the paralytic, when Jesus saw their faith! After pondering, I heard it loud and clear that they are all of us. This powerful message gives credence to our purpose as earthly members of the Body of Christ to bring the crippled, the deaf, the lame, the paralytics, and the sinners to the Lord. Through our own prayers, we can cooperate with Jesus’ healing power. With faith, we can help others’ sins to be forgiven. How can this be? 

With God, all things are possible. St. Monica knew this and never ceased praying for her son to be healed... and forgiven.

How many of us have loved ones, relatives, and friends in great need of healing and forgiveness? How many of us face yet another beautiful Christmas season, longing for the Christ Child and for perfect peace and love within our families?  How many of us need God’s mercy? Well, beginning with ourselves, let’s make a list…

And then—

Let us pray! Let us pray with the faith of the men who brought the paralytic to Our Lord. Let us humbly bring those we think are the worst of sinners and lower them on the stretcher before Our Lord. Let us carry those we think are the best of sinners straight to Jesus for further healing, strength, and conversion. Let us, with great trust, remember that when Jesus saw their faith, he forgave the sins of the paralytic.

April Yeager