What Paralyzes Us?

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. (2:1-12)

When we begin our introduction to Orthodoxy classes with newcomers, seekers and inquirers, we begin by telling all of them that the Church is a hospital. The model of a courtroom or a business or even a social club is misguided and lacks the heart and the purpose of why Jesus Christ has founded His Church, His beloved bride. It exists to be a place of healing and life for every one that enters through the doors, because assuredly, everyone that enters through those doors is sick.

How are we sick? We are sick because our souls are disordered. We do not love God. Our ancestors Adam and Eve, rebelled against God and their offspring entered into that fallenness and life of disobedience. Instead of being in love with life, goodness, truth and purity, mankind married itself to disobedience, lies, impurity and finally to death. What started in the soul, spread to the rest of us as a sickness or a cancer. We are divided in our minds, our bodies and our will. We are fragmented. St. Paul speaks of this when he says,

“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me…but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Rom 7:14-24

This is our condition. We are broken because of our warring and conflicting desires and our inability to bring all things together within us, to unite every part of us in the service and worship of God. This is a picture of what sin has done to us. It deeply affects us at every level and it even causes us to fall into sickness and all kinds of mental, emotional and physical diseases. We sympathize with St. Paul when he cries out “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” We see an example and a symbol of this body of death and the way that sin paralyzes us in the person of the paralytic in today’s gospel. We are not told how long this man was paralyzed. We are not told what caused his paralysis. But we observe what great works God did in his life.

We take note of the dear friends, the four men who carried their paralyzed friend to the house of Jesus. It is clear that this house is a symbol of the Church which is in truth the house where Christ dwells. The four men symbolize the 4 evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who carry all manner of sick men upon the stretcher of their gospels. Not so that they should remain on the stretchers, but in order to bring them precisely to the feet of the physician with his medicines and therapies, to the hospital, the holy Church of God.

Of course many of you know these things but it is good for us to be reminded of them and to share them for the sake of all the new faces present with us. Since Christ is the physician, and the Church is the hospital, then it makes sense for us to see that the sacraments of the Church are the various medicines through which God shares with us His grace in a powerful and dynamic way. Listen to these words from St. Ignatius of Antioch who lived from 35-107ad. He writes, “breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but which causes that we should live forever in Jesus Christ.” Letter to the Ephesians, 18-20

That is why we are here. That is why the gospels were written for the world. That is why some of our parents brought us and dedicated us to God. And I think that this is why many of you have come from various backgrounds and joined or would like to join yourselves to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; to make sure that you receive the medicine of immortality and to unite ourselves fully to Jesus Christ.

Can I tell you the secret to receiving this great gift of immortality and healing and all of the treasures of Christ through the Church? You receive them by identifying with the paralytic. When you read or hear the gospels you have to identify with the one who is sick and needs healing. You have to not only agree with his condition. You have to agree with the cause. The cause of most of your problems isn’t economic or political. If you want to see the cause you have to look at your sins and your own lack of love. There is great power in the admission that we are the ones that are sick. There is great power in admitting that we need others to help carry us to Christ. There is great power in being vulnerable in our hearts.

Just as it was for the paralytic, the start of our healing is through the forgiveness of our sins. This starts with a profound repentance and the medicine of confession. When we hear these words “Son, your sins are forgiven”, we should identify with that man so that we can also be filled with hope and joy. God is so merciful and desires that we should be lifted up from our bed of sickness and from all of the various ailments that put us into an existence of paralysis. Christ knows. Identify with the one who is in need and call out to Christ from the depths of your heart. He will hear you and He will heal you. Then He will command you to rise, take up your bed and walk in newness of life. AMEN

Source: Sermons