Jesus Healing the Paralytic in Cafarnaum, Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy, 5-6th century
Transcription Of Audio
Translation of the Epistle for the 18th Sunday After Pentecost
Brethren, I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Jesus Christ, that in all things you are made rich in Him in all utterance and in all knowledge, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed to you so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will also confirm you into the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew
At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water and came into His own city. And behold they brought Him one sick of the palsy lying on a bed and Jesus seeing their faith, said to the sick man of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold some of the Scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? whether is it 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 on earth to forgive sins (then said He to the man sick of the palsy): Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he rose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
The Saving Words of the Gospel
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.
In The City of God, St. Augustine famously says that two loves built two cities; the love of God unto the contempt of self and the love of self unto the contempt of God. And if we take this Gospel passage today in its context, it’s following on the heels of the exorcism of the Gadarenes, the Gerasene demoniacs. And, as you may recall, in that passage that happens right before this Gospel, our Lord expels the demons. They go into the swine, the swine then dive into the sea and drown. That’s the first instance of deviled ham, in fact. And then what happens? The people are moved by a spirit of rejection, they cast out our Lord. What a horrible thing – to expel Christ from your midst, which is what they choose to do.
And then we see this interesting verb. Jesus entering into a boat ἐμβὰς, embás, it says in Greek, ἐμβὰς is singular, but we know that Christ enters along with His disciples. What’s going on here as they experience this rejection? Christ is rejected and therefore they’re rejected. Christ gets into the boat, they get into the boat with Him. They are of a piece. This is what the life of grace is supposed to do to us. Christ is the head. They are members.
We have been made members of Christ; members of the Mystical Body through grace. Do my thoughts, do my words, my actions, reveal Christ? And do I act and live with this awareness that I am an extension of Jesus Christ, which is what the Church teaches us through the teaching of the Mystical Body; the doctrine of the Mystical Body. When Christ addresses Saul on his way to Damascus, He doesn’t say, “Why are you persecuting my followers? Why are you persecuting the Churches.” [but] Why are you persecuting me? So when Saul then is persecuting these members of Christ, Christ feels it in His own sanctified flesh.
And then, they get in as a body into this boat, and they cross over the sea, and it says, Christ came into His own city. So here we see this, the city of self-love that He just left that has expelled Him and He goes to His own city and there’s another mob waiting for Him just as there was a mob that cast Him out. There’s a mob that’s waiting for Him. But He’s seeing their faith. He turns to the man who’s paralyzed. So there’s this separation of the City of God, the City of Man. And our Lord is moved by this. Matthew uses the word πιστις, pistis, this faith. Faith in Hebrew is אָמֵן, ‘āmēn. Amen. That’s why we end our prayers with that word, אָמֵן. It means not only I believe, which is not intellectual assent, it’s not merely I agree with that. Okay, that’s a human thing, there’s nothing supernatural about that. It is a theological virtue. In other words, divine operation united to human operation. It means to believe, it means to trust, it means to entrust oneself, it also means to build on a solid foundation. Those are the meanings of this word אָמֵן. which in Greek is πιστις, pistis.
And Lord, our Lord sees their πιστις, πιστις made alive through charity as they carry to Him. And that’s another beautiful word. The word is προσφερω, prosphero, is they offer to Christ. This paralyzed man. And its a liturgical term as well, just as the priests in the offertory offers the host, offers the wine, to the Father to be transformed. So they have this προσφερω they offered Him this sick brother of theirs.
And what does our Lord say? Θαρσει τεκνον, tharsei teknon, Have courage, child. Courage, this θαρσει, this courage is… If you read the classical Greek writers, Homer, etc. this is the virtue that makes every obstacle surmountable. But this is not merely a human virtue anymore. This is now an infused virtue. And I’ll show you why in a second. It’s an infused version Now it is supernatural, because he is called τεκνον, teknon. He is called child. So this is this man’s baptism right here. What does a baptism do? Baptism adopts us, makes us a child of God. It also cleanses our sins. So he says, Θαρσει τεκνον… Have courage child your sins are being forgiven. That’s how you would translate what it says in Greek. So why does courage? Precisely because he has been adopted. Precisely because he has been made a part of a family of God. People say we’re all brothers. No. We are brothers in as much as we are baptized. It’s the life of grace that makes us that unites us and therefore makes us part of the same Body.
The Freemasons speak about the brotherhood of man. Okay, we speak about a Brotherhood that comes as a result of grace, because of a substantial change that our soul undergo. This is the result of grace. I don’t know how old this man was. He is carried on this it says κλινη, klinē this litter, or this bier, which, in a certain sense, was his funeral bier, but as he’s adopted by God, as he’s forgiven, as his new life in Christ begins, it becomes really something of a cradle, a crib. He is now a new creation. I wonder after his miracle of his forgiveness, and then the miracle of his healing, his physical healing, how different this man’s life was? How he saw himself. How he saw he world around him. How he saw our Lord after this. He’s not predetermined, but I think it’s not a stretch to think that everything was different for him.
And we can ask ourselves the same thing when I’m forgiven in confession: Is everything really different? Or is there a pattern of: I commit a sin, I go to confession and then I go to communion, then I commit a sin? Is there a cycle of going from the City of Man to the City of God to the City of Man back to the City of God, or am I stable in grace? Do I constantly cross over the sea that separates these two Cities? Or do I live in Christ’s own town as one of His own people? These are worthy questions for us.
And they complain, the scribes complain, He blasphemeth. What is blasphemy? In Leviticus 24, blasphemy is uttering the Holy Name. To say the Name of God, the tetragrammaton, YHWH, those four letters, was a punishable offense. In Leviticus 24, if you were to utter the name of God, and just say it, you are to be carried out from the camp, and everyone in the community had to participate in your stoning. So if the name of God is so Holy, how do I use it? If I’m watching the show, and I hear the Holy Name misused, do I keep watching? Do I make an act of reparation? Is this something worthy of an extension of Christ?
But our Lord doesn’t use the Name of God rather, He appropriates all the power of God. He forgives sins, only God can do that. So He’s saying that He is Divine. And hence, this horror of the scribes who say He’s blaspheming This is worse than using the name of God. He’s appropriating Divine powers. And so we’ve we’re left with a choice. Christ is the great divider. Either He’s not Divine and this is a horrible blasphemy, or He is Divine and to deny Him is a horrible blasphemy. In this is precisely what sin is, is to reject Him, to cast Him out from our midst.
His very Name contains the tetragrammaton with an addition of two letters. So He’s not called YHWH, He’s called YHWH-saves, Yeshua. That is Jesus in Hebrew is יֵשׁוּעַ, Yeshua, Yahweh-Saves. And so, God is made flesh has come into our midst to adopt us, to forgive us, to make us His own, to make us members of His own people of His own city, the City of God. And the Holy Name now is no longer a forbidden verbalization. The Holy Name now is to be said with utter reverence. Great author from the Siglo de Oro, the golden age of Spanish literature, Fray Luis de Leon, says about the Holy Name, The name becomes a faithful portrait of the reality. For in the person of Christ, the Divinity is united with a soul in the flesh of man. And in the same way the Divine Word which could not be read before can, together with these two letters, now indeed be read, and what was hidden comes out to light made utterable and visible. And Christ is a Jesus, that is a yoking of the Divine with the human, of the unpronounceable with what can be pronounced. He is the cause, that what becomes united with Himself can be pronounced.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.
— Fr. Ermatinger