Monday, December 18, 2006

Marriage, Wounds, and the Healing of the Paralytic in Luke 5:17-26

The following is the Gospel reading from the First Monday in Advent, Luke 5:17-26:
"...some men appeared, bringing on a bed a paralyzed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him [Jesus]. But as they could find no way of getting the man through the crowd, they went up onto the top of the house and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, 'My friend, your sins are forgiven you.' ... he [Jesus] said to the paralyzed man-'I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.' And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been liking on and went home praising God."
There are many aspects of this Gospel reading that relate directly to our marital relationship in the face of our deep seated wounds.

The Decision

There are two ways we can deal with our spouse's wounds and their flare ups:
  1. We can react out of our own wounds. More than likely, depending on the power of our reaction, there will be even more hurt and pain. This can lead to a cycle that can be very deadly to the marriage relationship.
  2. We can respond out of love and understanding, swallow our pride, and accept our spouse in their woundedness. This is not accepting the wounds, this is realizing that what we are experiencing is someone operating out of theirs, and that it is the person that we love. They are in need!

In the first case, it is virtually impossible to reach the same decision the four men did for the paralytic, to reach down and pick our spouse up, and work our rear ends off to bring them before Jesus for healing.

In the second case, our response not only holds the promise of healing for our spouse, we are responding to the powerful Sacramental Grace blessed upon us by Jesus in Marriage: We are truly being the presence of Christ for them.

The Responsibility

As our relationship develops and grows, we get to know the deep seated wounds in our spouse. We get to know what triggers their pain and just how powerful they hurt in those wounds.

This is a huge responsibility! With knowledge comes power. We can use this knowledge for the good of our spouse, that is, working and praying for their healing. Or, we can use that knowledge for an evil purpose: Pushing their buttons, deliberately saying or doing things that trigger those wounds to inflict as much damage in them as we can.

The paralytic was completely vulnerable and at the mercy of passersby. There was no way to avoid the cruel boots of individuals who lashed out at them. There was no way to earn a living so as to meet the basic needs of life without the few coins that would be tossed their way.

When we are immersed in our wounds, in the deepest hurts of our lives, we too are vulnerable. What do we do with this vulnerability? Both our own and our spouse's?

The Effort

There is a lot that goes unsaid in this story. There are four, FOUR, men who went out of their way to befriend a helpless individual. There is an understated relationship, a deep friendship, that these five share.

There are four men who carried this paralyzed man to the place where Jesus was with full knowledge that Jesus would heal him.

It was this knowledge, this faith, that gave them the strength to carry him all the way to the place Jesus was, but not only that, to then move around to where they could climb with him onto the roof of the houses, walk precariously across the roofing tiles (not too stable), and then work at lifting the tiles off of the roof to make a hole big enough to lower the paralytic down.

This is the kind of effort that it sometimes can take for us to carry our spouse in their woundedness. The deeper the wounds, the more patient, gentle, kind, loving, and strong we need to be for them. The deeper the wounds, the greater the effort we need to put into bringing them before Jesus.

The deeper the wounds, the more we will need to endure the behaviours they trigger over time. It may have been a great distance that the four men had to carry the paralytic man, but they did it. We have committed ourselves to our spouse for life. There is no greater distance than this, no greater commitment to another than this. We must endure, we must pray for the grace to endure, and for the hope that we need to overcome.

The Faith

"Seeing their faith he said, 'My friend, your sins are forgiven you.'" v.20

It was their faith that lead to this man's healing!!!

So too is the Sacramental Grace that we carry in us for our spouse. We may not physically carry our spouse to Mass, or to the Adoration Chapel with our Lord in the Tabernacle, or to Jesus Exposed on the Alter, but the effort to carry them in our heart to these places where Jesus waits for us is just as intense, if not more so!

It is our faith in the healing power of Jesus Christ that will be instrumental in our spouse's journey to healing. The carrying of the paralytic to Jesus was a team effort, and so too is our Marital Relationship.

Our encouraging words, our patient endurance, our ongoing prayer to draw them deeper into the Healing Heart of Christ, our silence in the face of adversity, will make clear the faith that is the foundation of our marriage and relationship with each other.

The Christ

When it is me operating out of my wounds, I must make every effort to be open to the healing graces offered by Christ to me through my spouse.

That grace is available to me.

When operating out of my wounds, in the aftermath of my vocal outbursts, the fresh wounds on their heart, the Heart of Christ, are there. When my thoughts were motivated by pain and hurt and I lash out within, there lies the Crown of Thorns on their head, the head of Christ. When my actions, with my hands and instruments within them, lash out and strike my spouse and wounds their body, it is the Body of Christ.

The Embrace

The paralytic responded to the four men. Despite his wounds, his helplessness, and his being completely impoverished he allowed them into his life and heart. He embraced their friendship and their acceptance of him.

Likewise, the four men looked beyond the physical deformities to the person within. They embraced him in all of his woundedness. And, when the opportunity arose for them to serve him by bringing him before Jesus, they literally jumped at the chance.

When we made our vows to each other before God and our community, we were serious about it. There were no doubts that we were called to be together for the rest of our lives. We embraced both the good and the bad in each other.

The Beautiful Healing Grace in Marriage

There is a special grace given to us in the Sacrament of Marriage: It is to see the truly beautiful person deep within our spouse. When we embrace this beautiful person within, we become instrumental in bringing that person out to the surface.

When we work as hard as the four men did for the paralytic to give our spouse the love and attention that they need, to carry them when they are down, the grace will be there for us to bring our spouse before Jesus repeatedly in a prayer for the Grace of Healing. We will have the fortitude needed to endure the trials and tribulations that are bound to happen due to inner hurts and wounds in the both of us.

"And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been
lying on and went home praising God." v.25

When we do experience the healing touch of Jesus, we must turn to our spouse and thank them for their prayer and support. We must thank Jesus for the gift of this awesome person who carries us when we are down and out, who bears our wrongs patiently, and who encourages us to embrace the healing being offered to us through them by Jesus.

We must turn to the Lord and thank Him for bringing this great gift of our spouse into our lives.

We must also thank the Lord for the Gift of His Suffering, Death, and Resurrection. For it is ultimately in Him and His life, that we discover how to be whole and holy.

It is Jesus Who heals us.

The Prayer

Thank You Jesus, for the gift of our spouse.

Thank You Jesus, for the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage and the great number of Graces you have lavished upon us through it.

Thank You Jesus, for Your healing Love.

Bless us Lord with the healing we need. Help us to grow in wholeness and holiness. Help us to found our marital relationship totally on You.

Be with us Lord in our struggles and wounds. Teach us to embrace the Cross and struggle our way to Calvary with You.

Thank You Jesus, for hearing our cries and our pleas!

Pax vobis (Peace be with you),

John E.

2 comments:

bill bannon said...

Very excellent.

JohnE said...

Thank you very much!

Bless you,

John.