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On the Healing of the Paralytic
St. Peter Chysologos, Bishop and Doctor
Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D.
(PL 52, col. 339, Sermo., L.)
Todayís lesson makes clear to us that Christ in His human actions wrought divine mysteries, and that in His visible works He had in mind invisible ends. Entering into a boat, it says, he passed over the water and came into his own city. Is this not He Who thrusting aside the waves of the sea laid bare its deeps, that the people of Israel might pass on dry ground through the midst of fearful waves as between mountains (Exod. xiv)? Is this not He Who supported the feet of Peter upon the crests of the waves, so that his watery path upon the sea stayed firm beneath his step (Mt. xiv)? And why does He deny Himself the service of the sea, to make the brief crossing of the lake in a hired boat? Entering into a boat, it says, he passed over the water.

And why should we wonder, brethren? Christ came to take upon Him our infirmities, and confer on us His powers; to seek what is human, to give what is divine; to receive injuries, and return them with honours; to suffer affliction, and bring healing to others: for the physician who does not suffer infirmities, knows not how to cure infirmities; and he who is not weak with the weak, cannot bring health to the weak. Christ therefore, had He remained within His own powers, would have had nothing in common with men; and unless He conformed to the way of life of our body, His taking of flesh would have been in vain. He therefore shared our necessities, that by these human needs He might be proved a true man.

Entering into a boat, it says. Christ enters the ship of His Church, that He may calm at all times the waves of the world; that He may conduct those who believe in Him by a tranquil voyage to their heavenly country; and make fellow citizens of His own city, those He had made sharers of His humanity. It is not Christ therefore Who needs the ship, but the ship that needs Christ; for without its Heavenly Pilot the ship of the Church would be unable to pass through the sea of the world, amid so many and such great hazards, and reach the heavenly harbour.

These things, brethren, we have said with regard to the spiritual meaning of the Gospel. Let us now consider the order of what took place. Entering into a boat, it says, he passed over the water and came into his own city. The Creator of all things, the Lord of the whole world, after He had for our sake confined Himself within our body, began to have a human country, began to be a citizen of the country of Judea. He began to have parents, Who was the Parent of all men, that His love might draw, His Charity attract, His affection win, His humanity persuade those whom the devil had driven away, fear had scattered, divine law made exiles.

He came into his own city, And, behold, they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, it says, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, Thy sins are forgiven thee.
The paralytic hears the words of pardon, and says nothing; neither does he offer thanks in return; for he longed more for the cure of his body than of his soul; he grieved over the temporal afflictions of his enfeebled body, but had no tears for the eternal penalty of the loss of his soul: judging that the present life was more agreeable than the future. Rightly did Christ look with favour on the faith of those who had brought him there, and ignore the foolishness of the man lying sick; so that by the merit of othersí faith the soul of the paralytic was healed before his body.

Seeing their faith, it says. You perceive in this place, brethren, how God does not heed the inclinations of the foolish, nor does He regard the faith of those who are ignorant of Christian truth, nor trouble with the foolish desires of the weak, but that He will come to our aid because of anotherís faith, which He bestowed by grace alone: for whatever comes from the Divine Will, He will not deny. And when, brethren, does a physician ask for or pay heed to the inclinations of the sick: since a sick man will always crave for and ask for things that may be harmful. Instead, he will make use, now of the iron, now of fire, now of the bitter draught, and apply them even to the unwilling, so that when well they will understand what was done for them, which they could not when ill. And if a man will take no notice of insults, and be indifferent to abuse, that he may bring life and health to those affected by disease; how much the more will not Christ the Physician, in His divine goodness, draw to salvation those who are sick from the wounds of sin, or sinking in the delirium of some vice; even the reluctant and unwilling?

O if we but chose! Brethren, if we but chose to look into every paralysis of our mind, and see our soul as it lies abandoned upon its bed of sin; we would see it clearly as Christ sees us; each day looking with patience on our sinful desires, drawing us, urging us, even unwilling, towards His saving remedies!

Son, He says, thy sins are forgiven thee. Saying this, He intimates that it is His will that men should know He is God; though now as man still hidden to human eyes. Through His signs and wonders He was already compared with the prophets who, through Him, had also wrought signs and wonders. Now He began to implant in human breasts that He was God: for to forgive sin, since it is beyond the power of man, is the particular sign of divinity.

The envy of the Pharisees proves this: for when He said: Thy sins are forgiven thee; the Pharisees answered: He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God alone? O Pharisee! who knowing, knows not; who confessing, denies; who bearing witness, attacks! If it is God Who forgives sins, why is Christ not God to you: He Who by one act of forgiveness is proved to have taken away the sins of the whole world? Behold, says Scripture, the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world (Jn. i. 29). But that you may have yet greater proofs of His Divinity: listen to Him who pierced the secret of your breast; look upon Him Who reached into the hidden places of your thoughts; understand Him Who lays bare the secret counsels of your heart!

And Jesus, it says, seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins (then said to the man sick of the palsy): Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house. And he arose and went into his house.
He Who searches into the souls of men had seen beforehand the evil counsels of their minds, and now proclaims the power of His Divinity by the witness of this miracle, as He brings together the members of this weakened body, draws firm the nerves, joins bone to bone, restores flesh and blood, strengthens the joints, and puts in motion the feet that just now lay buried in a living dead body. Take up thy bed; that is, take up that which bore thee, change places; so that what was the proof of thy sickness may now give testimony to thy soundness, that thy bed of pain may be the sign of My healing, that its weight may be the measure of the strength restored to thee. Go, He says, into thy house; so that cured by Christian faith, you may not die in the streets of Jewish unfaith, but may live for ever with Christ Jesus our Lord, Who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.