The paralytic (Mt 9:2-9:2)

“Then some people

Were carrying

A paralyzed man,

Lying on a bed.

When Jesus saw

Their faith,

He said

To the paralytic.

‘Take heart!

My son!

Your sins are forgiven!’”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ προσέφερον αὐτῷ παραλυτικὸν ἐπὶ κλίνης βεβλημένον. καὶ ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν εἶπεν τῷ παραλυτικῷ Θάρσει, τέκνον, ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:2-5, and Luke, chapter 5:18-20, about curing this paralytic.  In both Mark and Luke, they lower the paralytic through the roof of the house, but here there is no mention of that.  Some people brought this paralyzed man to Jesus (Καὶ ἰδοὺ προσέφερον αὐτῷ), since he was lying on a bed (παραλυτικὸν ἐπὶ κλίνης βεβλημένον).  Jesus noticed them and their faith (καὶ ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν).  He then told the paralytic (εἶπεν τῷ παραλυτικῷ) to take heart or have courage (Θάρσει), because his sins were forgiven or taken away (ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι).  The idea that sickness and sin had a common connection was prevalent.  In fact, Jesus called this paralyzed man son (τέκνον).  Faith and healing seemed to go hand in hand.

Forgiveness (Isa 1:18-1:18)

“Yahweh says.

‘Come now!

Let us argue it out!

Even though your sins are

Like scarlet,

They shall be

Like snow.

Even though they are red

Like crimson,

They shall become

Like wool.’”

It is difficult to tell whether this is a new Yahweh oracle of Isaiah, but it is a new theme, forgiveness. The case in favor of forgiveness must be presented, discussed, and argued out like a law case. Even though your sins were a scarlet wicked color, they could become pure white like snow. Even these crimson red sins could become like lamb’s white wool. Thus there was a path to forgiveness.

Sickness (Sir 38:9-38:15)

“My child!

When you are ill,

Do not delay!

But pray to the Lord!

He will heal you.

Give up your faults!

Direct your hands rightly!

Cleanse your heart

From all sin!

Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice!

Offer a memorial portion

Of choice flour!

Pour oil on your offering,

As much as you can afford.

Then give the physician his place.

The Lord has created him.

Do not let him leave you!

You need him.

There may come a time

When recovery lies

In the hands of this physician.

They too pray to the Lord.

Thus the Lord may grant him

Success in his diagnosis.

Thus he may grant him

Success in healing.

This is done

For the sake of preserving life.

He who sins

Against his Maker,

Will be defiant

Toward his physician.”

Sirach explains the connection between sickness and sin. However, the new twist is that you must do more than simply praying for forgiveness. You must also see a physician. Although the first thing that you do when you are sick is pray to the Lord, but that is not sufficient. You should confess your sins and cleanse your heart. You should also make a sweet smelling sacrifice to the Lord with choice flour and as much oil as you can. After that, you then turn to a physician who was created by the Lord. Do not let the physician leave you because your recovery will depend on him. He too prays for a successful diagnosis of your illness. He heals for the sake of preserving life. The physician takes the place of your maker God, since if you have sinned, you will be defiant to this physician also. Here we see the need for human remediation to help in sickness instead of a total reliance on God.

 

Law and sacrifice (Sir 35:1-35:5)

“Whoever keeps the law,

Makes many offerings.

Whoever heeds the commandments

Makes an offering of well-being.

Whoever returns a kindness

Offers choice fine flour.

Whoever gives alms

Sacrifices a thank offering.

To keep from wickedness

Is pleasing to the Lord.

To forsake unrighteousness

Is atonement.”

Sirach reminds us of the connection between keeping the law and offering the sacrificial rites. If you keep the law, you are like offering many sacrifices. If you keep the commandments, you are making the equivalent of a well-being or peace offering. When you return a kindness to someone, offer them the choice flour. If you give alms, you are like making a thanksgiving sacrifice. Whenever you keep from wickedness, you are pleasing to the Lord. When you stay away from unrighteousness, you are making an atonement for your sins. Keeping the law is like offering sacrifices.

More paradoxes (Sir 34:28-34:31)

“When one builds,

Another tears down.

What do they gain

But hard work?

When one prays,

Another curses.

To whose voice

Will the Lord listen?

If one washes

After touching a corpse,

Then touches it again,

What has he gained

By his washing?

So if one fasts

For his sins,

Then goes again

And does the same things,

Who will listen

To his prayer?

What has he gained

By humbling himself?”

Sirach cites various paradoxes in life. One man builds and another tears it down. What is this except a waste of time and labor for both of them? Who does the Lord listen to, if one person prays and the other curses? If you wash after touching a dead body, then you go and touch it again, what was the point of washing in the first place? If you fast for your sins, and then go out again and sin, who would listen to your prayers? What did you gain by humbling yourself?

Quarrels (Sir 28:8-28:12)

“Refrain from strife.

Your sins will be fewer.

The hot tempered kindle strife.

The sinner disrupts friendships.

The sinner sows discord

Among those who are at peace.

In proportion to the fuel,

So will the fire burn.

In proportion to the obstinacy,

So will strife increase.

In proportion to a person’s strength,

So will be his anger.

In proportion to his wealth,

So he will increase his wrath.

A hasty quarrel kindles a fire.

A hasty dispute sheds blood.

If you blow on a spark,

It will glow.

If you spit on it,

It will be put out.

Yet both come out of your mouth.”

Sirach reminds us of the problems with quarrels and arguments. If you refrain from conflicts, your sins will be less. Usually it is the hot tempered people who start disputes. Sinners disrupt friendships. They sow discord among peacemakers. Then Sirach has a number of proportional examples. The more fuel you have, the more the fire burns. The more stubborn you are, the more disagreements you create. The stronger you are, the more you will be angry. The more wealth that you have, the more fury you will have. Sometimes it is a hasty quarrel that starts a fire that leads to bloodshed. However, you have control with your mouth. You can either blow on the spark to increase the flame or spit on the spark to put it out. The choice is yours, spit or blow on the spark of a fire to increase or decrease the argument.