In today’s gospel Jesus forgives a paralyzed man and then cures his disability. Most of us are not physically paralyzed. But are we crippled by fear? Are we nailed to a cross of addiction? Are we straight-jacked with selfishness? Are we unfree in any way? Desperately, we come to the altar in church and plead, “Lord, please cure me and set me free!”
But wait. Jesus says, “If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Jesus is telling us to be reconciled with one another before we ask for anything from him. We are to give and receive forgiveness. We are to be at one with our brothers and sisters. That is the first step towards wholeness. Then we are ready to receive Jesus’s mercy and healing power. The spiritual, emotional and physical are closely connected in us.
A man spoke into his phone and asked, “Google, do you love me?” The voice from the phone responded, “I am not programmed to hate anybody.” We ask the Lord to “program us,” to grace us not to hate anybody. Then, even if we are physically disabled, we are a whole and complete human person, made so by love. We can go home.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/