"After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways .... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church." St. Philaret of NY 1985

Bodily Spiritual Healing

Today’s Gospel reading (Mk. 2:1-12) began with the words “And again He entered into Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.”  Immediately so many people gathered together so that there was no room even near the door, and Christ began to speak.  This is what happened in the early days of His ministry – people glorified Him for His wisdom, and especially for the miracles that He performed, and people flocked to see Him.  And so it is said that it was impossible to come close to Him, since he was always surrounded by crowds of people when He taught.  Now it happened that a man sick of the palsy was brought to Him, carried by four men.  What would we call this medical condition?  Paralysis, of course.  As you yourselves know, a person often becomes paralyzed because of a sinful, unrestrained life, most likely a depraved life, and the result is a paralysis of all his powers of body and soul.  That was why he had to be carried by four people.  Not being able to get close to Him due to the crowd, they took apart the roof of the house where the Savior was.  In those days, roofs were clad with clay tiles that were fairly easy to take apart.  Therefore, that was what they did, since it was impossible to get close to Him any other way.  The place was so crowded that it would have been virtually impossible for even one person to squeeze through, let alone a person on a cot carried byfour men.  So they broke through the roof where the Savior was, and let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 
Even if they were not able to explain to the Savior their decisive action on the roof, it was an obvious testament to their strong belief in wanting to reach Him.  It is not mentioned whether they actually asked Him anything, but Jesus, seeing their faith, without any questions said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  They had come so that their friend would be healed, yet Jesus is concerned about his sins.  Why?  It seemed to be beside the point!  Why does He speak about his sins?  Because, in any case, illness is always a result of sin – sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.  If a person were without sin, he would not be sick, but a person’s sinful nature is weakened when he commits sin, and he makes himself susceptible to illness.  That is why the Lord first treats the very root of illness.  This is the only correct way to get well: before getting rid of the consequences, you have to get rid of the cause. 
The Lord said a couple of times in the Gospel, “Your sins are forgiven.”  And what almost always happened after that?  His enemies who were always present accused Him of blasphemy.  Do you remember how a woman came to Him, weeping over her sins and whose tears fell on His feet, and she wiped Them with her hair.  Remember how when Christ said, “Your sins are forgiven,” the Evangelist noted that those seated around them immediately said to themselves, “Who does He think He is, that He can forgive sins?” 
Here, too, when the Lord granted this poor man forgiveness of sins (and His word is in fact the deed, for once He said so, of course, his sins are no more – they are forgiven), there were scribes seated round about, thinking in their hearts that He uttered blasphemies, for who can forgive sins, except God alone?  (Unknowingly, they themselves were wrong in using the word ‘blasphemy’ in this case, but they were correct in thinking that no one can forgive sins except for God.)  Unknowingly, they actually confessed that He was God.  (Of course, they did not mean this at all, and they would never have wanted to admit this fact.)  Jesus knew immediately through the Holy Spirit what they were thinking, and said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?”  Which is easier?  From a human point of view, to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk,” and then not have him get up and walk?  From a human point of view, as the scribes and Pharisees saw it, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’ was more difficult, and to say, “Your sins are forgiven” easier.  In actuality, from a spiritual and Christian point of view, it is of course easier to say the latter, because the doctors, even with all their healing powers, could not make the man get up and walk.  However, no doctor can forgive sins, in a spiritual sense.  But the Lord seems to say to them, “Look, I will go along with your way of thinking, and do that which to you seems more difficult.” 
In order that they would know that the Son of Man has the power on earth to forgive sins, the Lord says to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  The paralytic immediately arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, as if he had never been sick, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”  In such cases, the scribes and Pharisees were forced to keep silence, because they could not argue the fact of his healing. 
I remember that when I was still a young man of the world, I always said that if I ever fell seriously ill, before being seen by the doctor I would first have the mystery of holy unction performed over me.  I would not go to the doctor for treatment unless I received this sacrament.  The Church believes that the mystery of holy unction not only invokes the mercy of God on a person’s bodily ailment, but also forgives all his forgotten sin s. The grace of this sacrament cleanses his soul of all impurity even if he cannot recall all his sins or repent of them consciously.  In this way the Lord treats the root of the illness, after which it is easy to treat its consequences.  Amen. 
St. Metropolitan Philaret of New York, Sermons, Vol. II, pp. 227-229 
With the blessing of Vladyka Iosif.
Спасо-Вознесенский Православный Храм
Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
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