Healing of the Paralytic at Capernaum, (one of a set of 12 scenes from The Life of Christ),
Stained glass panel by Jan Rombouts (1475–1535),
Executed in circa 1525,
© Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’
Jesus was teaching one day, and among the audience there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing. Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on to the flat roof 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.’ The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed 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 lying on and went home praising God.
They were all astounded and praised God, and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’
Reflection on the stained glass panel
Today's stained glass panel dates from 1525. Whilst most 16th-century stained glass was used in churches, some smaller examples (like ours) could also be found in wealthy domestic settings for private devotion. The detailing in our panel is exquisite (look at the fine etching of the figures in the background and the yellow marbled floor tiles). The coloured sections are reserved for the protagonists in our story: a Pharisee, a Doctor of the Law, the paralysed man and Jesus…
…but there is also some colour to the two men who are on the roof, lowering down the paralysed man. Jesus did not just see the faith of the paralysed man but also noticed the faith of those who brought him. In our Gospel reading today, Luke clearly writes that Jesus saw 'their faith' and not just the faith of one man. It was their faith that brought the paralysed man to Jesus. What this means for us is that we too can bring people in front of Jesus. Our own faith in God can bring people before Him. Ultimately, yes, they must place their own faith in Jesus, but we can help by bringing them there first…
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Readings related to Luke 5:17-26
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