In today's gospel we find one of the passages that points to the two sacraments we associate with healing: anointing of the sick and penance. Like other healing stories, we can read this story of the paralytic from Mt. 9 and we can miss the deeper meaning. It is captured in the reaction of the crowd.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
This story is not simply about the power to heal. It is about authority. Further it is not simply about the authority of Jesus but about the sharing of that authority with the Church. The crowd does not marvel at the authority given to a man; they marvel at the authority given to men, plural (anthropois).
And here is where we start to react. We don't mind the idea of answering to God or Jesus, but we begin to react negatively to the idea that we are suppose to be obedient to the authority of people, and for some there is a particular distaste of the idea of answering to men.
If we look closely at our reaction what we see is fear. We are afraid the a human being with authority will abuse it and we or someone we love will get hurt. It has happened. It has happened in the church. And it continues to happen. Power and authority are seductive things.
So why should we trust, because we trust God. We cannot claim to be people of faith, if we do not trust God. And a part of trusting God, is trusting that God knew what He was doing when he created the Church.
you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
Today's first reading is the sacrifice of Issac, the story of absolute trust in God. Abraham trusted God so completely that he was willing to sacrifice his own son, if it had been God's will.
We can trust and not fear because we know that ultimately God protects the Church the way God protected Issac. Even if this or that individual makes a wrong decision or abuses their authority and we are hurt, we know that ultimately God has the power to transform that pain or suffering into a source of grace and strength. We do not need to ever be afraid.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men
May we look upon all of God's creation with the same sense of awe, including the Church.