Saturday, April 20, 2013

Take Up Your Pallet: The Sunday of the Paralytic Man

Christ is risen!  Christ, the Risen One, is the One we should imitate as St. Peter did.  The other Prime Apostle wrote, "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ," yet the same words could be placed in the mouth of Peter.  For he very much did imitate the Lord: as the Lord healed the paralytic, so did Peter, and as the Lord commanded him to take up his pallet and walk, so did the Prime Apostle.  All miracles occur through the power of Jesus Christ, for "Jesus Christ heals you," but He may heal through His disciples, through those inflamed with His Spirit, inflamed with Him.  Have we not heard stories of countless saints, the testimony of the Spirit's working in the past, saints who healed many through their prayers and their blessings?  Have we not heard of many icons and spots of grace that have healed?  The chapel in Czestochowa has walls gilded with crutches, and the pools at Lourdes bestow healing on many.  Yet all of this is only through Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity Incarnate.  It is through the indwelling of the Trinity in the saints and in the Theotokos that these healings occur, that indwelling that sanctifies even their relics, their images, the spots where they appear.  All those who follow Christ in His healing work do so through imitation of Him and even more so through divinization by Him.

The healings of Christ are not just those healed, but for all: men are healed so that they may bestow grace on others through their witness to God's most gracious deeds.  "He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful."  "He has shown His people the power of His works...Great are the works of the Lord!"  The works of the saints are the works of Christ working through them.  Those who recall God's deeds bear witness to them and proclaim the Lord through His works.  This is why Christ called the paralytic to take up his pallet and walk, and this is why Peter, remembering the deeds of his Lord, ordered Aeneas to make his bed.  The witnesses to the deeds of Christ, those things that testify to Him, should not be left in a ditch: they should be borne abroad and shown to all, for by this they may see the Lord's deeds.  It is the crutches placed on the wall that shine forth God's providence, those crutches not left in a corner but placed in a spot where all can see.  Likewise, it is the bed that is made that shines forth the man's healing: because the man no longer needs the bed, it can be made.  If he were still bedridden, he could never make it: but now he can, for he has been healed by Jesus Christ.  Just so, the paralytic is commanded to bear his pallet aloft and walk with it, showing it to others, saying, "Behold the mighty works of God!"

This is why stories of witness and testimonies are so well-received: they are declarations of the mighty deeds of the Lord.  "I was lost, but now am found": this is the kernel of all testimonies.  "My enemies compassed me about: in the Lord's name I crushed them."  The chariots of Pharaoh were hot on our tail, but "the Lord is a warrior: Lord is His Name!," thus "horse and chariot He has cast into the sea."  I was in dire straits, and the Lord saved me: this is what the pallet proclaims.  I was sick and infirm, and the Lord healed me.  I could not rise, yet the Lord bid me rise, and so I rose: this is the message of the made bed.  We proclaim our former failures, our former weakness, that the power of God may be seen all the greater.  We do not relish our past misfortunes: we relish the opportunity they gave for the Lord to save us.  "O happy fault, which merited for us so great a Redeemer!"

Let us proclaim our former pains, our former failures, our former sorrows, but let us proclaim all the more He Who saved us from them: Our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.  Let us proclaim with the kontakion: "Glory to Your might, O merciful Christ!"  It is Your might, O Christ, which has saved us: may we ever rejoice in it and proclaim it.  Let us take up our pallet and bear it aloft to proclaim the Lord's healing and salvation.  May the Lord grant us the strength to ever be witness to His mighty deeds in our lives, to be witnesses to all.  Above all, let us witness to Christ's greatest deed, His saving us from death.  For this, let us proclaim: Christ is risen!

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