In Jesus’ time, the people felt there was a very close linkage between a person’s illness and his/her sin, hence the decision of Jesus to heal the paralytic by first forgiving his sins and then curing the paralysis.
They weren’t too far off the mark. More and more, medical science is showing that there can be a close link between our sicknesses and our behavior, our thinking, our attitudes, our feelings. We can talk, think, or feel ourselves into illness. By the same token, we can often talk, feel, and think ourselves into healing! “It’s all in your head” really can be an accurate diagnosis!
Many sicknesses are known to be psychosomatic, the result of stress or an imbalance in our relationships with others, our work, our environment. An aspirin may relieve a headache but it does not really remove what caused it in the first place. To be full of stress, greed, hatred, anger, resentment, jealousy, and abusive desires breaks the relationships I need to have with God, with others and with myself. Our bodies do not lie to us. Ulcers and other GI problems, heart attacks, strokes, insomnia, irregular periods, back pain, skin rashes, depression … all these can be caused by our sinful behavior or the behavior of others.
However, given our present knowledge, not all sickness is to be traced to sinful behavior. There are bacteria and viruses responsible for human illness. Certain congenital defects, for instance, cannot be traced to the behavior of the individual. On the other hand, we do know that the behavior of the mother, for instance, through the use of nicotine, alcohol or other drugs, can have serious negative effects on the development of the child within her. A person could be suffering for life from the sinful behavior of a parent. It is not, of course, their sin, nor is it a punishment for them. Our ancestors were often closer to the truth than we are prepared to recognize.
I can’t help but wonder what ailments the scribes and Pharisees suffered from. Surely men with that much hatred and anger could not have been healthy, either spiritually or physically. One wonders who the real paralyzed man was!!!Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often! (These are good meds!!!)
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.