In today’s Gospel a poor paralytic is presented to Our Lord. He probably had himself brought there to ask for bodily health, but in the presence of the purity and holiness which emanates from the person of Jesus, he realizes that he is a sinner and remains confused and humiliated before Our Lord. Jesus has already read his heart and seeing his faith and humility He does not even wait for him to speak but suddenly says to him with kindness. “Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Then the first miracle has taken place. Jesus, who came to save souls, rightfully healed the soul before the body.
The Gospel presents Jesus to us in all the splendor of His divine personality, possessing all the powers proper to God. Today’s Epistle also shows Him in the act of putting his divinity at our service to sanctify and make us participate in his Divinity. Jesus continues to do for our souls what he did for the soul of the paralytic. Today’s Epistle is a beautiful synthesis of His action in us, an action far reaching and complete, embracing our whole being.
Souls are, as they were, God’s treasure, he has created them in His image and likeness by an act of love and by an ever greater act of love He has redeemed them with the Blood of His only-begotten Son. And one who has penetrated the mystery of God’s love for men, the one who has been redeemed by Him, cannot remain indifferent to them. In spite of all the contradictions and difficulty in this world, by the light of faith, he has understood that all that God does is in the end for man’s good and for his eternal happiness. And once someone has a glimpse of God’s love, he longs to have some share in this action, knowing that he can do nothing which will be more pleasing to God than to lend his humble collaboration for the salvation of those who are so dear to Him.
This was always the ardent desire of the saints. And this must be ours also. St. Therese of Avila said “This is an inclination given me by Our Lord and I think He prizes one soul which by His mercy and through our diligence and prayer, we may have gained for Him more than all the other services we can render Him.”
In fact nothing exalts His goodness, love and mercy more than the work of saving souls. Therefore to love God and His Glory means to love souls. It means to work and sacrifice oneself for their salvation.
Regardless of the degree of charity to which a soul may have attained and of his particular vocation, there is for every Christian a duty of apostolate based on the very fact of his being a Catholic, that is, a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.
St. Paul says “So we being many are one body in Christ.” For as in our body each member is interested in the welfare of the other members, and if one member suffers anything, all the others suffer with it. And also as the back, the hands, the head and the eyes of our body do not disregard the good of the foot, but each in its own way, hastens to help the suffering member, so no Catholic can be unconcerned about his brother but is obliged according to his ability to work for the good if his neighbor’s soul ... and this by reason of his Baptism which constitutes him as a member of Mystical Body, making him one with the other members so that the good of other is his Good, the suffering of others is his suffering.
So no one is fulfilling his own duty if he ignores his neighbor’s salvation because all of us are members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
The saint said “If you dare to contend that you have nothing in common with your fellow member, if you think you have nothing in common with your brother, then neither have you Christ for your head," and these strong words remind us that the apostolate is not something optional, left to the free will and generosity of individual, it is the express duty of every Catholic.
Jesus by his death on the Cross merited grace for us. And even though it was possible for Him personally, immediately to impart these graces to men, yet He wished to do so only through a visible Church where every man would perform a work of collaboration with Him in dispensing the grace of Redemption. The Church is the society of the faithful. And each one of us constitutes the Church.
Therefore it is urgent for us to cooperate in the diffusion of grace in souls. Pope Pius XII said “Not only the sacred ministers and those who have consecrated themselves to God in the religious life but also all the other members of Mystical Body of Jesus Christ have the obligation of working hard and constantly for the building and increase of this Body."
The salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary mortifications undertaken for this end by the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and on the cooperation of the pastors and of the faithful.
As St. John Bosco saw in his vision, often the Church is compared to the ship navigating in the ocean of this world. And in this ocean there are also the enemy ships that move to attack it, and they try in every way to stop it and to sink it. Sometimes it happens that struck by strong blows, it gets large, deep gaps in its side. But no sooner is the harm done than a gentle breeze blows from the two columns of the devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to Mary, Help of Christians. And the cracks close up and the gaps are stopped.
We are on the same ship and share somehow the same destiny. Let us continue to pray for each other. Amen.