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homily for 7/24/11 - P6 - the paralysis of sin

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matthew 9:1-8 Very often we find that our physical situation reflects and teaches us about the spiritual life. In this life, we see the spiritual life, indeed
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 24 11:52 AM
      Matthew 9:1-8

      Very often we find that our physical situation reflects and teaches us
      about the spiritual life. In this life, we see the spiritual life,
      indeed the whole of the spiritual world, dimly and without great
      perception. In order to understand the nature of the spiritual life we
      see lessons in the world around us. Many of the healings of our Lord
      recorded in the Gospel have this very purpose – to teach us about the
      spiritual world. Thus we see that when blind men are brought before
      Jesus Christ, they receive their sight – just as the soul, darkened by
      sin, when it comes before Christ is enlightened and begins to perceive
      the spiritual world. In today’s Gospel we heard of another kind of
      healing. This man was not blind but paralyzed. He could not move and so
      was brought before Jesus as He taught in a crowded house. As they were
      unable to bring the paralyzed man through the crowd, they lowered him
      into the midst of the crowd from above and in this way brought him
      before Jesus Christ. Seeing the paralyzed man and the faith both of him
      and those who had brought him, Jesus spoke and said, “Your sins are
      forgiven”. Only after this did He also say to him “Arise and walk”. In
      this we have a lesson about the spiritual world and the effects of sin.

      Sin paralyzes us, preventing us even from moving towards any spiritual
      good work. In the Gospel we were given a vision of such paralysis by
      this healing. The paralyzed young man brought before Jesus Christ was
      healed, but not before he was first granted forgiveness of his sins. His
      sins had produced not only a paralysis of the soul, but also of the body
      and in order to truly heal this affliction, its core cause had to be
      addressed. We know that there is a link between the soul and the body.
      Most of the time we are made aware of this in our prayer, for sometimes
      we stand, or we pray on bended knees. Sometimes we make prostrations and
      sometimes we raise our hands to pray. These bodily postures help to
      create an appropriate prayerful state in the soul. Just as the body can
      affect the soul, so also the soul can affect the body. In this case the
      soul was paralyzed with sin and that paralysis affected and was
      reflected in the body. The very first necessity was not to heal the
      body, but to heal the soul whose paralysis was the root cause of the
      paralysis of the body. Only when the root cause had been dealt with,
      could the bodily paralysis be released. Such was the case that we say
      here. First Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven”, lifting the paralysis
      of the soul and then He said, “arise take up your bed and walk” lifting
      the paralysis of the body.

      Our own sins cause the same kind of paralysis of the soul for us. Sin
      prevents the soul from any virtuous and righteous act. The more we live
      with our own sin, the more difficult any spiritual progress and growth
      become. This is often evident at first in our prayers. If we neglect our
      prayers (a sin) then it becomes more difficult to begin to pray again.
      The more we neglect our prayers, the more difficult it becomes to pray
      until finally we are unable to pray at all. In order to return to this
      God-pleasing habit we have to first seek forgiveness from God and then
      force ourselves to pray; never let the sin of neglect and slothfulness
      get a new hold for they will quickly return you to that state of
      spiritual paralysis. Sin paralyzes us and prevents us from following Christ.

      In the same way, anything that prevents us from following Christ is also
      rooted in sin. Any time we choose some other path than that of following
      Christ, we make a sinful choice. When we accept some excuse or rationale
      that prevents us from doing some good or righteous God-pleasing thing,
      then this is sin. When we pass a beggar and invent reasons why we cannot
      or will not help him, this reasoning is sin for it has paralyzed us from
      following Christ. When we allow the world to crowd out our prayers, then
      we sin for our choices have paralyzed us. When we justify our anger or
      hard feelings towards others, then we sin for we have prevented
      ourselves from following the path of Christ. Any time we turn away from
      the path of Christ, we have chosen sin and subjected ourselves to a
      spiritual paralysis. The only thing that can release us from this
      paralysis is forgiveness of our sins which breaks their hold on us and
      eliminates them from the soul.

      How then do we attain forgiveness? Again the Gospel reveals to us the
      answer, for in order to receive forgiveness we must seek out and come
      before Jesus Christ. Even when our sin has become so great that we
      ourselves find it impossible to seek out Christ on our own, we receive
      help from our friends who by their prayers constantly lift us up and
      carry us by their own efforts and prayers before the throne of God.
      Having come before Jesus Christ we have only to recall His words to us
      through the Apostle that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and
      just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
      Confession is the first step of our healing – we have to acknowledge and
      admit our sins before Jesus Christ. Of course, we have for this healing
      the sacrament of Confession, however, it is necessary that we don’t wait
      until we can go to confession to begin to repent, but we must begin
      right away. As soon as you realize that you have sinned, it is time to
      repent. At the earliest moment, turn to the Lord in prayer, confessing
      to Him that you have sinned and begging forgiveness. Having done this,
      then also come to confession and lay out your sin before the priest who
      stands as a witness before the throne of God to your repentance and who,
      as your spiritual physician, will help you with your repentance by
      bestowing on you the grace of the sacrament to strengthen you against
      returning again to that sin. The advice and direction that you receive
      in confession further helps you by giving some direction in how to
      resist that sin in the future and how to heal the damage that it has
      caused in your soul.

      Sin affects us, paralyzing the soul and preventing us from following
      Christ. Any time that we choose to depart from that path, in effect
      paralyzing ourselves, we sin. The only remedy for that sin is the
      forgiveness that we receive from Jesus Christ through confession and
      repentance, both in our own prayers and through the sacrament. In this
      way we can act on the command of our Lord to “arise, take up your bed
      and walk” and follow Him as He leads us into His Kingdom.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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