THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

23 September 2018

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Dear Friends,

It is interesting to note that the paralytic was forgiven his sins because of the faith of his companions. This is the greater gift even though it is unseen by human eyes. To convince us of the truth of what has taken place on the spiritual level (the forgiveness of sins) Jesus also healed the paralytic's body. This grace of the forgiveness of sins was not brought about by the paralytic's faith, but rather by the faith of those who brought him before Jesus.

We should, therefore, be very aware of the necessity of others' prayers on our behalf. In beseeching God directly for our wants and needs, we often act very selfishly. These prayers do not deserve to be heard. When the love that others have for us prompts them to beseech God on our behalf, they merit the graces that we are in need of. These prayers have a dual benefit. The graces that are sought are often obtained, the one that is praying likewise benefits as he draws closer to God through these prayers.

In praying for others we forget ourselves – at least for the moment. Love is most perfectly made manifest to us through the sacrifice of self for the benefit of others. Jesus shows us this love in Himself – there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for the brethren. When we seek God's blessing for others, we closely imitate Jesus, when we offer our prayers and sacrifices for this intention we enter into the very Life and Love of Jesus. This prayer is not refused by God because He finds this humble prayer most pleasing.

St. Ambrose expresses this very beautifully: “Whose faith when he saw, he said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. Great is the Lord, Who pardons some because of the merits of others; and while subjecting some to trials, He forgives others their sins. Why should not the prayer of your fellow-man avail with you, when a servant had both the merit of pleading for another before God and the privilege of obtaining what he prayed for? Learn you who judge, to forgive. Learn you who are sick, to gain health through prayer. Should you be diffident because of your grave sins, seek the prayers of others, call upon the Church to pray for you, and in His regard for her, the Lord will give what He could refuse to you.”

There is a great benefit in obtaining the prayers of others for ourselves, but there are even greater blessings for us when we pray for others. In doing this truly and sincerely, we imitate Jesus – we follow Him. As we add sacrifices or penances to our prayers we become even more intimately united with Him. Jesus becomes our Life our Love. We lose ourselves in Him.

St. Gregory the Great has said: “God is the place (house) of man; abandoned through disobedience. At the judgment, God shall not know them who here despised Him. The place of man, but not his place in space, is the Creator Himself, Who created man that he might dwell within Himself. This place man abandoned when, giving ear to the voice of the tempter, he abandoned the love of the Creator.”

When Jesus instructed the paralytic to enter his house, we mystically understand, that we are told to enter into God. We do not bring God into us, but rather, we bring ourselves into Him. We spiritually enter into Him as we physically may enter a house. All that a physical house offers to our bodies, our Spiritual Home (God) offers to us. In a physical home we find shelter and protection from the elements of the world, we find safety and security. When we enter into the Life of Christ our spiritual Home we spiritually find these same things – and more.

We are to take up our pallet. This pallet represents our sins. Rather than being carried about in the world on our sins, we are to take up our sins and carry them into Christ. Only within our true home can we lay down this pallet and walk freely. As Jesus took up His cross to leave this world and return to His Father, so in Penance we cease being carried away by our sins. We take control of them and present them to Jesus through His Mystical Body – The Church. It is often a heavy and burdensome cross, but God gives us the strength (grace) to accomplish it. Once we have entered our House (entered into God) the cross is made light, sweet, and a joy. We are set free and are no longer carried about as slaves paralyzed by sin. With the grace of God, we rise up as masters over sin and carry them as our burden to lay down in our true House – Jesus Christ.

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