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Homily, 11th December - Fr Paul Rowse, OP.

The Lord has shown us in two ways that he can read hearts and minds.  We know he reads the hearts and minds of the Pharisees because he challenges them about their accusation of blasphemy.  But he also reads the heart and mind of the paralytic: we know this because he forgave his sins before he healed him. The order of the two healings of the paralytic is significant: the spiritual healing came first; the physical healing followed.

Thus, the Lord who is coming shows himself to be the physician of souls and bodies.  The healing of the body is a demonstration of his power to heal the soul as well.  The Lord can heal all of us; he can heal all of all of us.

The Lord has seen into the life of the paralytic and been moved by his faith to forgive his sins.  Forgiveness, to him, is the more pressing matter, much more pressing than his ability to walk.  And so, we are going to focus on what the Pharisees did: the healing of the soul.

Sin does more to paralyze the soul than an accident or illness or old age does the body.  The body of the man retained many of its functions even in paralysis: he could see; he could eat; perhaps he could gesture and speak.  He just couldn’t much move.

The experience of the paralytic witnesses for us how the body carries on even when the person is living with unconfessed sins.  Without any judgment on our part, we know what the effects of unconfessed sins looks like.  Perhaps that’s why the world around us looks as it does.

But the soul in sin is dead before God.  The Greek word for forgiveness is related to the word for freedom, liberty.  The paralyzed man is freed when he is healed: “Your sins are forgiven; you are set free.”  So, after his healing the man is said to rise.  He rises up in a new life, free from any earthly encumbrance of body and soul.

We can have a resurrection of the soul when we go to confession.  It is a greater thing to raise up a soul than to raise up a body, to heal a soul than to restore a body, because the soul’s healing requires our cooperation.  We have to want to be raised up from sin in order for it to happen.  Thus, may it happen.

We are preparing this Advent to welcome the physician of our souls and bodies.  He is the doctor of our humanity.  He will heal us from all illness, initially of the soul and on the last day also of our body in the resurrection.

Fr Paul Rowse, OP

Parish Priest

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