I don’t usually turn on the TV in the morning, but today I wanted to check the weather.
A cable station came up first. The man being interviewed was young and handsome and quite earnest. He was talking about his strength of faith. He didn’t seem artificially certain about it, but very genuine and full of life.
The camera pulled back and what was revealed in the longer shot was that he had no arms or legs; just one tiny foot beneath his trunk. I don’t know if he had been born to a mother who had taken thalidomide or not.
He talked about how deeply he carried Christ in his heart. He talked about how he had come to be at peace with himself. What particularly struck me was when he said (to the best of my memory), "What I learned was that I was a broken man not because I had no arms or legs, but because I was broken within. Once I realized that I could be whole inside, I no longer felt incomplete."
Today in the Gospel, Jesus performs a miracle. Making the lame man walk is, of course, miraculous, but before that, he heals the paralytic’s sins. This, Jesus reminds the scribes, is the far harder thing to do, perhaps in part because the one who is lost must be open and accepting of the grace that is being offered. Our bodies can be restored and that is a wondrous gift, but it is our hearts’ readiness to receive the spirit of Christ that is truly transformative.
Clearly this young man opened his heart to receive a grace that has made the nearly unbearable, bearable. His embrace of his cross has opened a door into a new life: a life where he is whole, where he is loved, and where, in his words, he is "not a broken man but a child of God."
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.