Please listen to Father Broom's Homily about the Friends of the Paralytic

Imagine yourself a paralytic! Your legs immobile, dependent almost totally on the mercy and compassion of others, desiring ardently to walk, jump, leap and run, but just a mere dream. Confined to a bed, or couch or wheel-chair experiencing a certain sense of futility and helplessness!

In a certain real sense this scenario presents itself in the 5th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, verses 17-26.  However, what we would like to focus on in this Gospel scenario is not so much the inability, helplessness and incapacity of the paralytic but in the  noble and loving hearts of the   FRIENDS   of this paralytic. Call to mind also the theological truth: God allows evil to bring greater good out of the evil.

Therefore, let us list the numerous virtues of these anonymous Friends of the Paralytic, admire these virtues but accept the challenge to implement these virtues into our own daily lives.  The Word of God should always challenge us to go beyond who we are, where we are, always aiming higher!

1.    LOVE AND COMPASSION.   These friends obviously had compassion towards their friend the paralytic.  Keenly aware of his suffering and inability to move, their hearts were moved. “Compassion” is the ability and willingness to suffer with and for the ones you love. Question and challenge: do you have a compassionate heart? Has your heart grown cold, callous and insensitive in time?

2.    ACTIVE CHARITY!  The compassion of the stretcher-bearers was not limited to pious thoughts, clichés or simply pious platitudes but their compassion moved them to action to help  remedy the plight of their suffering friend. Question:  Is your love simply words and lip-service or is it translated into concrete actions?  Remember the words of Jesus at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:  “Not all those who say Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of God, but those who do the will of my heavenly Father.”
3.    FAITH AND BELIEF.  Indeed charity—supernatural love for God and neighbor- is the greatest of all virtues for we will be judged on love. However, in order of action faith comes before charity. Clearly we cannot love what we do not know! Therefore, these friends of the paralytic must have either seen Jesus, heard Him preach, witnessed one or more of His miracles or simply heard of Jesus. But in any case, they placed firm faith in the power of Jesus to heal their friend.   They had the faith that can move the mountains.  Question and challenge!  In this year of faith, have you made a concerted effort to grow in your own faith and taken the necessary means to accomplish this goal and objective? If so, keep climbing! If not, why not start today!

4.    STRENUOUS EFFORT AND SACRIFICE.   The athletes have a saying:  “No pain no gain!”  A classical “Rock n’ Roll” group of the 60’s was named: “Blood, Sweat and tears”. Without exerting energy and effort, our own blood, sweat and tears, then little will be accomplished. These friends, the stretcher-bearers, had to carry the dead-weight of their friend. No van, car, bus, helicopter or subway service! Those were tough days! Maybe they had to travel a mile or two. The Gospel does not specify the distance. However, very possible it may have been that these friends ended up with blisters on their hands and maybe popped and bloody blisters on their palms of their hands. Remember the hands of the crucified Savior and Redeemer, Jesus the Lord!  Question and challenge: Are you willing to walk the extra mile, to undergo the pain, to offer your own blood sweat and tears to glorify God and to save souls and to work out your own sanctification and salvation?  Our God is a loving God but He will always challenge us to give more each day!  Why not accept the challenge?
5.    TENACITY, PERSISTENCE AND PERSEVERANCE.  When confronted with a huge obstacle--- namely, the house where Jesus was teaching was packed to the gills--- there was no way to maneuver their paralyzed friend through the multitude.  Easily defeated they could have decided to give up the pursuit of Jesus, thrown in the towel and disheartened and discouraged returned their paralyzed friend home just as he was. Not on your life for these courageous troopers! Come hell or high water, they were determined to attain their goal and objective: to meet Jesus and attain the cure and healing of their friend. These men had the attitude of St. Teresa of Avila: a determined determination to never give up!!!!   Question and challenge: When confronted with obstacles in your path, detours in your way, contradictions and thorns along the route, do you easily give up and simply throw in the towel? Why not make a serious examination of conscience on this point! Remember the words of Saint James: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials. For you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
6.    CREATIVITY!   Not only were the faithful friends not daunted and sidetracked to attain their object--- the total healing of their friend the paralytic—but they utilized one of the most original, creative indeed humorous tactics to meet Jesus. They decided to climb on top of the roof of the house, move the tiles and lower him down to Jesus. Wow!!!  Question and challenge! Blessed Pope John Paul II,   ushering us into the new millennium, challenged all of us to become missionaries, apostles and to take efforts to evangelize in this “Springtime of grace”.  Furthermore, the saintly pope challenged us to be open to “Apostolic creativity”.  This means, that we must be open to the breath of the Holy Spirit who breaths where He wills and be ready to utilize new, creative and modern means to preach the word of God to the entire human race. (Mt 28). Are you willing to drop your nets into the sea, to go fishing in new waters and pursue the lost sheep in a new and original way that the Holy Spirit may inspire you? Follow the saints and be courageous!

7.    CRUSH HUMAN RESPECT!   The faithful friends could have easily been criticized for their “unorthodox” strategy and tactics. Nonetheless, they could care less!  Their love, compassion, determination, sincerity and good will would not be thwarted but implemented, despite the possible objection of the populace! Question and challenge!  Are you a “People-pleaser” or a “God-pleaser”? Are your actions motivated by human respect and a hidden desire to receive accolades and applause by people or are the actions motivated by the Ignation A.M.D.G. --- All for the Greater honor and glory of God!  Check and examine your hidden designs and intentions; where do they lie?
8.    VICTORY!  After all the time, effort, struggles, setbacks, apparent contradictions, the friends of the paralytic, the stretcher bearers, attained their final objective to encounter Jesus. Rejoicing over the faith and love of these men and the faith and suffering of the paralytic, Jesus ----always overflowing in goodness—bestows on the man a double blessing! First, Jesus heals him of his spiritual paralysis—another name for sin. Then, Jesus proceeds to heal his body, thereby restoring to the limbs of the paralytic healing, strength and mobility! Question and challenge! Are you aware of the reality of your own paralysis? Maybe you can walk, hop, skip and run; however, you (as well as the world at large) all suffer from moral paralysis which means that we are sinners!  Why not approach Jesus the Healer this very day through a good confession so that Jesus can heal and strengthen your limbs so that you can leap with joy in His presence!

9.    JOY AND REJOICING!    The friends lived out the Pauline expression: “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep!”   The paralytic’s joy had no bounds; likewise the joy of the friends exploded! Question and challenge? Has jealousy or envy ever consumed you over the success of your brother, sister, relative, friend or neighbor? If so, repent! Live out: “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep!”
10. PRACTICAL CLOSING APPLICATION.   Indeed the paralytic is you and me because we indeed as sinners are interiorly paralyzed. Good News! Jesus was in the healing business 2000 years ago but is alive and active even today. Why not allow Jesus, the wounded healer, to heal you so that you being healed can indeed be a wounded healer in a wounded and broken world! Lastly, place all of your relatives and friends—who indeed are spiritual paralytics—on the altar (the “stretcher”) so that as the priest elevates the Host and Chalice these blind and deaf paralytics will be healed by the loving and powerful presence of Jesus the Wounded Healer! Our Lady, health of the Sick and cause of our joy, pray for us!