When four friends bring a paralyzed man to Christ, it was because of their faith that Christ healed him and forgave his sins. Christ wants for us to have enough faith to bring others to Him. Do you know others who need the healing touch of God? Then put your faith into action and bring them to Christ.
My brothers and sisters, what we heard this morning in the gospel is more than just a story of a miracle healing. It is a story of faith. Faith not of the paralyzed man, but faith of his friends. According to the story, these four men brought their friend to Jesus Christ. They couldn’t even get near Christ. There were so many people gathered around him. But they did not allow that to stop them. They found a way to bring their friend to Christ. And it says in the gospel that when Christ saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you.” Sins are forgiven, not because of anything that the paralyzed man did, but because his four friends had the faith in strong enough to bring him to Christ.
One of the things that we struggle with as Christians is that we tend to see faith as a private thing. I believe, I love God, I am dedicated to God. All of the descriptions of our faith is in the personal. And yet, in this morning’s gospel, it was the faith of others that moved God to forgive sins and eventually to heal the man of his paralysis. So the challenge for us, my brothers and sisters, if we’re going to hear this morning’s gospel for the joy and opportunity that it gives to us, is for us to find in our hearts the faith strong enough to be committed to the salvation of others, not just ourselves. As the story continues, what does Christ say? He says to the Pharisees, “Which is harder, to say your sins are forgiven, or to tell this man to get up and walk?” And he says, “Get up, get up. Walk.” But before the physical, he says, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Faith leads to salvation. Our faith, if it is truly in God, will lead others to their salvation. That has got to be our commitment, my brothers and sisters, to the salvation of others. Heaven is going to be no fun if we’re there by ourselves, as they say, because love which God gives to us is to be shared with other people. We cannot love just ourselves. We cannot love just God. We cannot simply say that we believe in God and then let the other members of our society out in the distance away from God, away from his grace, away from his healing touch. We must act. We must take the faith that we say we have in God and go and bring our friends, our neighbors, our relatives maybe who have strayed from the church, and bring them to God. We have to find the faith strong enough to act for the salvation of others.
If it’s one thing we can learn during this great Lenten journey, we’re fasting, most of us, anyway. And we’re so proud about our fasting. We’re not eating meat, we’re not eating fish, we’re not eating eggs and dairy and all these things. And we’re so proud that our faith has brought us to this point and we’re coming to church and we’re doing our metanoias. And yet, we’re not sharing our faith with other people. What good is our faith in God if it doesn’t bring others and draw others to him? In the ancient church, the era of persecution, as they say, the first couple of hundred years of the church, we were not free to go out and preach on the street corner, but still the church spread. The good news of God’s salvation spread.
How? Because of stories like this. Because people had the faith in Christ enough to go out and bring others to him. It’s no secret that we live in a society that more and more is looking like the ancient world. Not believing in God, not living a faith dedicated to God. We see that every time we turn on the news, we turn on the television, we read a newspaper, it doesn’t matter. We see that the society is more and more straying from God. But we, blessing that we have, the ancient traditions of our church. We have the ability to live our faith in action.
So my challenge for you, my brothers and sisters, this week, a very specific challenge. Identify one close friend or relative who needs God’s touch. One, all you need is one. Next week is the Sunday of the Holy Cross. Bring that one person to church with you next week. That’s my challenge. Find that one close friend or relative or neighbor that you know needs God’s touch and bring that one person to God on Sunday. Allow your faith, my brothers and sisters, to be a faith of action so that one person can come and hear the message of God and to be in his presence and to feel his touch, and maybe to hear the words in their heart, “Your sins are forgiven. Pick up your palate and walk.” What a great day that would be for the salvation of others because of our faith. Glory to God for all things.