Father Girardey recounts a fourth narrative, The Healing of the Paralytic (Mt 9:2-8; Mk 2:2-12; Lk 5:18-26): “They came to Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried in a bed by four men. . . . They went upon the roof, uncovered it, and let him down through the tiles with his bed into the midst before Jesus. And when Jesus had seen their faith (and that of the sick man), He said to him: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. There were some scribes and Pharisees sitting there; they began to think in their hearts: Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who, but God alone, can forgive sins? And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, saith to them: Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is easier to say to this man sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say: Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He saith to the sick of the palsy: I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed and go into thy house. And immediately he arose before them, took up his bed on which he lay, and went away in the sight of all to his own house, glorifying God.”
Father Girardey writes: “Let us admire the charity of these four men towards their suffering, helpless fellow-man, and leaving their own work and giving their time to the hard and laborious task of bringing him and placing him before Jesus, as well as their ingenuity and great faith and confidence in the power and goodness of our Saviour.”
“It was their great faith as well as that of the paralytic which moved Jesus to cure the helpless sufferer. But before curing his body, Jesus wished to cure his soul, which was probably in a more deplorable condition than his body. It frequently happens that sin is the cause of men’s diseases; physicians testify that the gratification of the passions causes a large percentage of the diseases that afflict mankind. Hence many commentators on the Gospel hold that this paralytic was suffering on account of his sins. Jesus seeing his faith and his hearty sorrow for his sins which had brought on his disease, said to him: ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’; thus He first removed the cause of his disease, that is, his sins, before removing their effect.”
“The principal object our divine Saviour had in view in curing the paralytic was to prove that He could as truly forgive sins as He could cure corporal diseases by a mere word, for He expressly said so: ‘That you may know that the Son of man (that is, Jesus Christ as man, in His human nature), hath power on earth to forgive sins.’”
“When He first appeared to His apostles after His resurrection, He breathed on them, saying, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained’ (Jn 20:22-23), He thereby actually transmitted to them His power of forgiving men’s sins.”
Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).