1 July, Thursday — Spiritual health before physical health

Thursday of Week 13 in Ordinary Time

Gen 22:1-19
Mt 9:1-8

“Your sins are forgiven… Get up and walk”

I have a physical impairment, and I cannot walk without support. So I have to move around on a wheelchair.

I remember when I first read this Gospel many years ago as a child, I often wondered why did Jesus have to forgive this disabled person’s sins first? Why didn’t He just heal him of his physical ailment immediately? I thought as well, did this person commit a sin and so was unable to walk? Maybe he rode a camel too fast, and collided into another moving camel, and so was injured and paralysed?

Then, what about me? I was born unable to walk, so… if I were to be the paralytic, honestly I would feel intrigued or perhaps even angry if Jesus were to say, “Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven” and then had a debate with the scribes. I would feel confused or, possibly angry, because I think Jesus knows why my friends brought me to Him, and that is to heal me of my physical disability.

But as I grow up, I begin to realize that being physically disabled is nothing compared to being spiritually disabled. Yes, I know and experience first-hand the lack of freedom due to my physical disabilities; for instance, I am not able to climb up the Great Wall of China or ascend the second and third stories of my great-grand-aunts’ residence (they live in a semi-detached terrace house that has three floors). But what is a lot worse is being spiritually disabled. I have seen people who can walk and are able-bodied, but they are so spiritually disabled that… it is disturbing to observe from a third-party perspective. I am not referring to depression and other mental illnesses; these are different from spiritual disabilities.

Spiritually disabilities – these include spiritual apathy, or leading a lavish lifestyle full of excessive consumerism, hedonism and materialism to the point of neglecting or completely ignoring their spiritual life. And these are far more crippling than physical disabilities, because a spiritually disabled person is unable to feel the freedom of being a son or daughter of God, nor appreciate the beauty of life that God has given to them in nature, and in each and every one of us.

So today, if Jesus would come and say, “Your sins are forgiven”, I will be most glad to feel peace and spiritual freedom from my past sins and mistakes, and reclaim my identity as a beloved daughter of God. If He were to tell me, “Get up and walk”, this is just icing on the cake — a bonus.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to be rid of any spiritual illness or disability that we may have. Please give us the courage and strength to continue building up our faith in You and our spiritual health and well-being, even if we are facing challenges due to other physical, mental, intellectual or financial difficulties. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us the importance of being spiritually healthy and well, and that always knowing and reclaiming our identity as Your son or daughter is far more freeing than being freed from all our other trials, illnesses and difficulties. Thank You, most importantly, for being our loving Father. Amen.

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