The Prelate’s Sermon
(Sunday, August 7)
Today in the Armenian Church is known as the Paregentan Sunday in preparation for the fasting-week immediately before the great feast of Saint Mary, the Mother of God, Sourp Asdvadzadzin. The Gospel reading is from Saint Mark chapter 2:1-12. The Evangelist tells us that Jesus was preaching in Capernaum in a home that was overwhelmingly crowded. Four people tried to enter the house, carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. When they saw that they had no access to Jesus through the house, they dared to break open a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher with the paralytic lying upon it. Jesus, seeing their faith, addresses the paralytic and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Some of the scribes who were present and heard this questioned in their heart whether this was blasphemy, since they believe that only God can forgive sins. Jesus, perceiving in His spirit their attitude, asks them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” Jesus, turning to the paralytic, says to him, “Get up, walk and go home”. And the paralytic in front of all stood up and took the stretcher mat and went to his house. The assembly in the house was amazed at this and they glorified God.
This passage, as much as it is captivating with the recorded miracle (which was praised by some while doubted by others), nevertheless two millennia later fills us with awesome fear and admiration, seeing the deeper miracle which goes beyond the physical healing of the paralytic. I would like to share the following thoughts upon reading this passage.
- One of the Almighty Lord’s attributes as Creator is Omniscience. The Scriptures modestly witness this truth by recording that “God searches the hearts” (1 Chron 29:17); “the Lord knows the thoughts of man” (Ps 94:11); “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, he days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps 139:13-16); “before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer 1:5), etc. God knows everything because He is the source, the Alpha and Omega of Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding. Everything, before the Creation and beyond the Ages and Ages is known by Him.
Jesus, as omniscient, by reading the hearts of the scribes, invited the scribes humbly to practice what they profess as the teachers of the Scriptures; yet, He was rebuked and even accused of blasphemy.The ability to read the mind and hearts of fellow human beings is one of the most fascinating things which every person would definitely yearn to possess. The main problem is that while Jesus practices it and has promised that insight to His followers for edifying the souls of fellow human beings, as we learn from the episode of Saint Peter and Ananias and Saphira, even though they were punished because of their lies (Acts 5:1-11), human beings eagerly wish for that power; they may even spend a fortune to acquire it in order to dominate and control others.
Unfortunately, we see this trend also in our modern science where through advanced technology by using chips there is an inclination gradually to dictate to human beings.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ, by first forgiving the sins, makes us aware of the priority of spiritual health. There is no doubt that we need a healthy body in which the mind and soul strive to achieve their highest potential. Yet we should be aware that similar to the body, the mind and the soul also may become sick and paralyzed. Unfortunately, while emphasizing the importance of physical health, we often neglect our mental as well as emotional and spiritual wellbeing. As such, we suffer immensely without knowing the source of our misery. We seek the roots of our wretchedness and are unable to find them because very often are not knocking at the right Door and we are not asking for cures from the True Physician of our bodies, minds, and souls.Our society today includes paralytics who, for different reasons such as nervous disorders, auto-immune diseases, inherited or sustained injuries, are deprived of enjoying normal movements. There are, however, others who are paralyzed because of mental or emotional disorders, and then kill innocent people in schools, in malls, in markets, etc. Others, because of spiritual blindness, often unknowingly hurt, blame and curse others who are not in line with their lifestyle, understanding, confession, etc. A healthy soul paired with a healthy mind leads the body to achieve higher goals and dreams which the body alone is unable to fulfill.
With this most precious free prescription granted to us by our Heavenly Physician, let us all humbly pay more attention for our spiritual health, the driving force of a healthy mind, and the energizer of a healthy body, in order to more vibrantly meet the expectations of our Creator and Heavenly Father, praising the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.