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Sunday of the Paralytic

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by Rev. John Kaloudis

According to today's Gospel, four friends brought a paralytic to Jesus Christ for healing. When they saw the packed house they didn't give up in despair. Instead, they went up on the roof, they removed the panels and lowered the paralytic down. Can you imagine the amazement of the crowd in the house seeing the man coming down from the roof? Can you imagine the amazement of Jesus Christ seeing the man coming down from the roof and four heads peaking through the roof? The result of this experience was the healing of the paralytic of his physical and spiritual infirmities.

First, we see here a graphic example of faith. We see how faith will literally raise the roof to be in the presence of God in Jesus Christ. The men were not turned back by the jammed doorway. Why? Because of faith. Faith never gives up. Faith perseveres. Faith is inventive. Faith is fertile. Faith is full of ideas. Faith laughs at barriers. If the road is closed one way, faith looks another way.

Second, what we see is that these men made it clear that Christianity is not just a stab in the dark. Christianity is not just trying to be a nice person. True Christianity is a determined and directed effort to establish contact with a person, Jesus Christ.

When a person says that "he is not in Church but his heart is with you," he is kidding himself. If his heart is there, his body will be there also. Faith always finds a way to be with Christ.

Are we willing to raise the roof to be with Christ? Most people would raise the roof to get a good business deal, for tickets to a basketball game, the opera, a movie, a big party, an exotic trip or a new job. How many of us are willing to raise the roof to be in Christ's presence? Not many of us. That's why we live a life of superficial faith. A faith that is not alive and vibrant. Yes, we may be very religious, live a life of outward formalities, rather than our faith being a deep movement of the heart. Real faith cannot be stopped from finding a way to be with Jesus Christ.

Why is this so? What is the problem? I suggest that the problem centers around what we believe and think who Christ is. Jesus asked his disciples and implies the same question to us: "Who do you say that I am?"

Who do we say Christ is? According to our Orthodox Theology, we believe that Jesus is God Incarnate, Creator of all, Savior of the world, and the Alpha and the Omega. The Bible and the Church make Christ Pre-Eminent, Lord, Kyrios, and Supreme Authority. He must become all these things for us, personally.

Our Orthodox Theology is meant to be a Theology of experience. A theology confined to books is useless. In reality, what we think about Chris is essential, even more important than the way we act. If a man walked in here now and said: "I am Christ, I am God". We have three options. We can think that he is nuts. We can think that he is a liar. Or in fact we can believe that he is who he says he is.

What we believe about Christ affects the amount of energy we spend in getting into His presence.

Look at the friends of the paralytic. First of all they were people of faith; their faith leads to a miracle. Four men came to Christ, but they didn't come alone. They remembered their paralytic friend. Most of us worry getting ourselves into Christ's presence, which is good; however, we also have the privilege of bringing others into Christ's presence. The greatest gift we can give to another person is to bring them to Christ. Not a day goes by that we do not come in contact with people who don't know Christ, and who aren't Christians.

Isn't this the whole purpose of the Church, of priests, Sunday School teachers, Choir members, youth workers, and lay people-to bring people to Christ.

So often we bring people into the presence of baklava, Souvlakia, dolmathes, but forget our faith, forget Christ.

The story is told from the desert Fathers that a monk picked up a rock and said: "If this rock could heal people, would you put it in your pocket or attempt to touch as many people as possible?" The answer was obvious. The monk went on to say that the rock symbolizes Christ and that we should touch as many people as possible with Christ's love.

If we have faith, circumstances won't stop us. With faith in Christ, we will bring others into His presence. There is no greater gift than Christ who brings to people fullness of life here and now and also grants eternal life.