BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo


HOMILY: * Is 35 : 1 – 10, Lk 5 : 17 – 26.

‘Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to the faint-hearted ‘Be strong, do not be afraid.. Your God is coming to save you!’ Yes, our God likes to find us persevering in prayer especially in moments of great tribulation. Just like the Isrealites gathered Aaron and Hur to support the frailing arms of Moses during the war with the Amalekites, Ex 17 : 12, God is happy when we support one another in order to finally prevail in prayer. The promises from Isaiah the Prophet are quite comprehensive : The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf, the body of the paralysed and our tongues will sing for joy for water will gush in the desert (symbol of poverty) and there will be wholistic healing ; physical (our body), emotional (our mind/ hearts) and spiritual (our souls).

The gospel pericope presents us with a very interesting and dramatic account of a group of friends who brought their paralyzed patient through the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching. Seeing their faith, Jesus released healing grace – it was a great power bank of collective faith that Jesus saw which led to this miraculous healing. When a man is paralyzed (or has stroke as we often call it), whether partial or full, he is completely at the mercy of others. That’s why the Catholic Church so much believes in intercession and communion of Saints, especially for forgiveness of sins. See how the friends of this paralytic brought him to the feet of divine mercy.

Note the desparacy, urgency and fervency of their prayer point ; When they could not enter through the door, they creatively opened and let down the man through the roof. It must have been a very odious job. A faith which is urgent and fervent is always pleasing to the Lord and often prevails through prayer.

There are different kinds of faith ;

1. DOGMATIC FAITH : Faith/ understanding of God as he truly is. Example understanding God as one in three persons (Trinity).

2. PRACTICAL FAITH : Faith/ understanding of what God can do physically or in practical life. For example, in today’s gospel, the friends of the paralyzed man believed so much that bringing their friend to Jesus would be the end of discussion for the sickness. So many people believe in God but fail to believe in what God can do in their concrete life situations.

3. SACRAMENTAL FAITH : Faith/ understanding of how God works most times spiritually and sometimes slowly. For example, in today’s gospel when Jesus began the healing process, the 1st power he raised was a sacramental healing power : ‘Your sins are forgiven’ but they didn’t have the faith to understand that, then he released the physical/ practical healing power : ‘Rise and walk’. That is the one everybody saw. Another example is in the healing of the woman of hemorrhage. Jesus was impressed in her desire to touch his garments. That was sacramental faith being exercised, Matt 9 : 18 – 26. When the Centurion told Jesus to only say the Word and his servant will be healed, that was sacramental faith being exercised, Matt 8 : 6 – 13.

4. RESILIENT FAITH : This is a kind of faith/ understanding of God as remaining always faithful inspite of all obstacles or temptations. When Jacob continued in faith and prevailed over the angel of God in his prayer for blessings, Gen 32 : 22 – 32 he was exercising a kind of resilient faith.

In today’s gospel, Jesus praised the resilient faith of the sick man’s committee of friends. They insisted on the man seeing Jesus to the point of getting carpenters to lose the ceiling roof of where Jesus was preaching. Sacramental faith and resilient faith are very important but very rare among believers. Dogmatic faith is also very important and foundational because without it we can’t begin our journey in faith well. Many Christians run into idolatry because according to Robert Wetmore, ‘Idolatry is of two kinds ; having a true image of a false god and having a false image of a true God’. Sometimes, even virtues can conflict. Courage, for instance, can come into conflict with endurance and you can see a man of God abusing people in the name of courage where he is expected to endure them.

Practical faith can take us to worship the wrong god in the process of insisting on having God do something for us. May God give us the wisdom to distinguish these various dimensions of faith and know which aspect is needed at a given period of time.



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