Matthew 9:2 And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” 7 And he stood up and went to his home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
This morning I’m struck by verse 2, specifically “Jesus saw their faith”. Some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed, but it wasn’t the faith of the paralyzed man that drew Jesus’ attention. It was the faith of those carrying him. Through their faith the paralyzed man was blessed with forgiveness of sins and healing.
When I was in elementary school I attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church and school in Austin. The place was run by lay teachers and nuns, with one parish priest to support their work. My family identified as Catholic, though we didn’t have much connectivity to the church. My church life was essentially my school experience. We went to mass every week on Wednesdays. That’s where I learned the liturgy of the mass, the “Our Father”, and much more.
In 6th grade I moved to a public school and stopped going to mass regularly. Every once in a while my family and I would attend, but it was sporadic at best. By the time I left home for college my connection to the church was minimal. I know this is not a unique story as I’m sure many of you can relate.
So imagine my surprise when, in my mid-20s I re-connected with the church – the Lutheran church this time. Then a few years later I began attending seminary to become an ordained pastor. How did that happen? How did I circle back around to faith after such a long absence?
Well, first you need to know that I wasn’t pursuing the Lord, the Lord was pursuing me. And I believe my spiritual openness to faith was, at least in part, a result of the nuns who prayed for me and all of my classmates when we were little. They lit a candle for each of us and beseeched the Lord on our behalf. Every single day. For years. Eventually the prayers of those faithful women bore fruit in me.
“Jesus saw their faith”
Is anyone praying for you? A spiritual leader like a nun or priest or pastor or Sunday school teacher? What about a family member? Most people have someone praying for them whether they realize it or not. As these people come to your mind, thank the Lord for them, for it’s quite possible you will receive the blessings stirred by their fervent prayers for you.
Lastly, who are you praying for? I was talking recently with a retired couple who are very concerned about their son – who was raised in the church but has fallen away over the years. They wonder if their prayers make any difference at all. I encouraged them to continue praying because it’s never too late for the Lord to grab hold of someone and draw them back to faith.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe there is a loved one in your life who has clearly wandered away from faith, if they were ever there in the first place. I cannot say when your prayers will bear fruit, but I can assure you the Lord hears your prayers and that your prayers make a difference – whether you can see that difference or not.
Lord thank you for the faithful ones who hold others in prayer. Give us grace that we might be counted among them. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.