February 29, 2012 + Homily on the Paralytic Let Down through the Roof
by St. John Chrysostom
There are indeed some who say that this man was healed merely because they who brought him believed; but this is not the fact. For "when He saw their faith" refers not merely to those who brought the man but also to the man who was brought. Why so? "Is not one man healed," you say, "because another has believed?" For my part I do not think so unless owing to immaturity of age or excessive infirmity he is in some way incapable of believing. How then was it you say that in the case of the woman of Canaan the mother believed but the daughter was cured? And how was it that the servant of the centurion who believed rose from the bed of sickness and was preserved? Because the sick persons themselves were not able to believe.
Hear then what the woman of Canaan says: "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil and sometimes she falleth into the water and sometimes into the fire:" now how could she believe whose mind was darkened and possessed by a devil, and was never able to control herself, not in her sound senses? As then in the case of the woman of Canaan so also in the case of the centurion; his servant lay ill in the house, not knowing Christ, himself, nor who He was. How then was he to believe in one who was unknown to him, and of whom he had never yet obtained any experience?
But in the case before us we cannot say this: for the paralytic believed. Whence is this manifest? From the very manner of his approach to Christ. For do not attend simply to the statement that they let the man down through the roof: but consider how great a matter it is for a sick man to have the fortitude to undergo this. For you are surely aware that invalids are so faint-hearted and difficult to please as often to decline the treatment administered to them on their sick bed, and to prefer bearing the pain which arises from their maladies to undergoing the annoyance caused by the remedies. But this man had the fortitude to go outside the house, and to be carried into the midst of the market place, and to exhibit himself in the presence of a crowd. And it is the habit of sick folk to die under their disorder rather than disclose their personal calamities.
This sick man however did not act thus, but when he saw that the place of assembly was filled, the approaches blocked, the haven of refuge obstructed, he submitted to be let down through the roof. So ready in contrivance is desire, so rich in resource is love. "For he also that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." The man did not say to his friends "What is the meaning of this? why make this ado? why push on? Let us wait until the house is cleared and the assembly is dissolved: the crowds will withdraw, we shall then be able to approach him privately and confer about these matters. Why should you expose my misfortunes in the midst of all the spectators, and let me down from the roof-top, and behave in an unseemly manner?" That man said none of these things either to himself or to his bearers, but regarded it as an honor to have so many persons made witnesses of his cure.
And not from this circumstance only was it possible to discern his faith but also from the actual words of Christ. For after he had been let down and presented Christ said to him, "Son! be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." And when he heard these words he was not indignant, he did not complain, he did not say to the physician "What mean you by this? I came to be healed of one thing and you heal another. This is an excuse and a pretence and a screen of incompetence. Do you forgive sins which are invisible?" He neither spoke nor thought any of these things, but waited, allowing the physician to adopt the method of healing which He desired. For this reason also Christ did not go to him, but waited for him to come, that He might exhibit his faith to all. For could He not have made the entrance easy? But He did none of these things; in order that He might exhibit the man's zeal and fervent faith to all. For as He went to the man who had been suffering thirty and eight years because he had no one to aid him, so did He wait for this man to come to him because he had many friends that He might make his faith manifest by the man being brought to Him, and inform us of the other man's loneliness by going to him, and disclose the earnestness of the one and the patience of the other to all and especially to those who were present.
St. Gregory the Dialogist - March 12
Thou didst excellently dispense the Word of God, endowed with discretion of speech, O Hierarch Gregory; for by thy life thou didst set the virtues before us, and dost radiate the brightness of holiness. O Righteous Father, pray to Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
Kontakion of St. Gregory, Tone 8
We praise thee, God-inspired harp of the Church and God-possessed tongue of wisdom; for thou didst prove to be an image and model of the Apostles and didst emulate their zeal. Wherefore we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Gregory the Dialogist.