One of my friends has paralysis. One day, while we were chatting on a patio facing the sea, he told me his story.
He was not born like this, he said. He was a normal boy with sturdy legs. Then one morning he woke up and he could not move his legs. “It was a big shock for me and for my mother; my father has passed away already.” We went to various doctors, tried diverse treatments, but nothing seemed to work. His legs were dead, “physically impaired” to use his words. “For many months I was so bitter. I thought this was utterly unfair. I did not deserve this. “Why can not I go and play hockey and basketball like everyone else?” I realized that having a normal relationship with a girl would be basically impossible. What girl would want a boy who cannot walk?”
He was livid. “I was angry at God, I was angry at myself, I was angry with my mother, because I was her fifth child, and if she did not bring me to life I would not have to go through all this agony.”
Then one night, God came to the rescue. “I could not sleep. Then I heard someone speaking softly near me. It was my mother. She did not realize I was awake. And I heard her praying. I still remember the words she was saying. ‘God, please relieve the pain and the anger of my son. If it at all possiblem pass this paralysis on to me!”
“It was like an intense light just switched on inside me. I realized how self-centered I was. It is true, I have two legs that are crippled and I will never walk on my two feet again. But here is a woman that has a heart (not legs!) that is utterly broken, a woman who is suffering terribly. And… I never realized it! I was so absorbed in my paralysis that I did not even grasp that there was another person who was suffering like me, perhaps more than me, and she was suffering because of me!”
He looked at me and said softly, “She was even asking God the impossible, that my pain would pass to her. Suddenly I felt like I could let go, I felt faith flowing back to me. For the first time I realized that perhaps this paralysis is good for me, even necessary for me, needed for the salvation of my soul. This light have accompanied me ever since.”
I was speechless. This young adult had acquired a wisdom through this paralysis that I myself, even though I was much older than him, had not yet acquired. I understood that day what being a Christian really means. From the moment Jesus Christ went up on the cross willingly, believing in the love of His Father, after that, even for us, the will of the Father that manifests itself in the events of life is always salvation for us.
A Christian is a servant and a servant does not do his own will but the will of the Other. This is where happiness lies. This is where our rescue lies. Like Him who “took the form of a slave and humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death. And so God highly exalted him…”
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.