Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas
Today, on the Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas, we hear Saint Mark’s account of the healing of a paralytic man. We are told how this man was brought to Jesus by his friends and, because of the crowds in the house where Jesus was, had to be lowered into the house through the roof. We are told that Jesus Christ responded to the faith of the man’s friends by telling the paralytic that his sins were forgiven – something that angered the scribes, for it is only God who can forgive sins – and later instructing him to get up and walk.
As we continue on our Lenten journey, the Church gives us this reading to remind us that we are all sick and in need of healing. The entrance of sin into the world, and the loss of Paradise which we were reminded of at the beginning of the fast, has meant that our human nature has become corrupted and sick. The repentance that we are called to is most fundamentally a means whereby we can be healed by Christ who is the Divine Physician.
It is worth noting that this paralytic man was brought to Jesus Christ by his friends. He was not able to come on his own and it was in response to their faith that Christ healed him. We too need others to help us to approach Christ, to help us to acknowledge our own need for healing, and to cry out to him. We cannot do this on our own. The services of the Church in this Lenten period, and the means to repentance that she offers us, are not there to simply add one more burden to our lives, or to make us feel important about our own ascetical efforts. Rather, they are there to help us to repent, to help us to come to a place where – not only in words but in the depths of our hearts – we realize our own need for healing and so are able to open ourselves to the Divine Physician who longs to heal us.
To those who live in the darkness of sin, Thou hast brought light, O Christ, at this time of abstinence. Show us therefore the glorious day of Thy Passion, so that we may cry to Thee: Arise, O God and have pity on us.
From Matins for the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 2:1-12:
At that time, Jesus entered Capernaum and it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is a blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he said to the paralytic-“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”