For the last 140 years we humans have enjoyed light produced by electric light bulbs. Thomas Edison tried and tried countless times to find the right wire to transmit electricity in the incandescent light bulb. Each time he failed, Edison did not say, “It is not the will of electricity to shine continuously in my wire.” He knew he would have to find the proper adjustment to the laws of electricity in his method. Edison tried over 6,000 times before he was able to make electricity shine though a wire. In the spiritual life, we call this faith.
In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 5:17-26), Jesus sees the faith of the paralyzed man’s friends who were very persistent. Because of the huge crowd around Jesus, they had to lower the paralyzed man down through the roof to be close to Jesus. The man’s friends did not try 6,000 times, but they still tried very hard.
In Jesus’ time people believed that if you were sick or paralyzed as the man was, it was because you or a family member had committed a sin. There was always a connection. Jesus did not believe that sickness and sin were connected. But to prove that he had the power to forgive sins and to heal as well, Jesus says to the man, “That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher and go home” (Luke 5:24).
One of the greatest correctives that Jesus brought to our faith is the truth that people are not punished by God with illness. It is true that our sins can make us sick, but Jesus taught us that our God is a God who loves us and wants us to live healthy and happy lives.
As we travel through Advent, we need to remember: God Cannot Cure You Unless You Accept His Diagnosis. If you were to walk into a doctor’s waiting room, you would not ask the people sitting there, “Are any of you sick?” Of course they are sick or they wouldn’t be there. Their presence there suggests that they want help in getting well.
The only people that Jesus can heal are those who come to him humbly saying, “I’m a sinner who needs a Savior. I have a problem that only you can fix.”
I’m not perfect. I make mistakes.
I sin and I hurt people.
But when I say “I’m sorry” I mean it.