The Paralysis of Despair

for July 6th, 2017
Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Opt. Memorial of St. Maria Goretti

Liturgical texts here


THERE are many things in life that can cause us to despair, but none, perhaps, as much as our own faults.

We look over our shoulder “at the plow,” so to speak, and see nothing but the crooked furrows of poor judgment, mistakes, and sin that follows us like a stray dog. And we are tempted to despair. In fact, we can become paralyzed with fear, doubt, and a deadening sense of hopelessness. 

In today’s first reading, Abraham ties up his son Isaac and places him on the altar to become a holocaust, a burnt offering. By then, Isaac knew what was coming, and it must have filled him with dread. In this regard, “father Abraham” becomes a symbol of God the Father’s just judgment. We feel, because of our sin, that we are bound to be punished, maybe even bound to the fires of hell. As the wood upon which Isaac lay jabbed into his flesh and the ropes which bound him left him feeling helpless, so too, our sins constantly jab at our peace and our weakness leads us bound to believe that our situation will never change… and thus, we despair. 

That is, if we remain fixed upon our misery and sense of hopelessness. Because there is an answer to our folly; there is a Divine response to our habitual sin; there is a remedy to our despair: Jesus, the Lamb of God. 

As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. (Today’s first reading)

Isaac is unbound only when another offering takes his place. In the case of humanity, whose sin placed an abyss between the creature and the Creator, Jesus has taken our place. The punishment for your sins, past, present, and future, was laid upon Him. 

We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

So now, there is a path forward, even if you feel paralyzed by your sin, paralyzed by your emotions, paralyzed by despair such that you can barely speak to Him. It is to allow Jesus, once again, to take your place—and this He does in the Sacrament of Confession.

Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1448

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (Today’s Gospel)

If you find that you are falling into sin habitually, then the answer is to make Confession a habitual part of your life. If you find that you are erring frequently, then it is a cause, not for despair, but for greater humility. If you find yourself constantly weak and with little strength, then you must turn constantly to His strength and power, in prayer, and in the Eucharist. 

Brothers and sisters… I, who am the least of God’s saints and the greatest of sinners, know of no other path forward. It says in Psalm 51 that a humble, contrite, and broken heart, God will not spurn. [1]Ps 51:19 And again, 

If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. (1 John 1:9)

That is because divine Blood has been shed for you and me—God has paid the price for our transgressions. The only cause now for despair would be to reject this gift out of pride and stubbornness. Jesus has come precisely for the paralytic, the sinner, the lost, the sick, the weak, the despairing. Do you qualify?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16)

It says, “whoever believes in him,” not “whoever believes in himself.” No, the world’s mantra of self-esteem, self-fulfillment, and self-actualization bears a false hope, because apart from Jesus, we cannot be saved. In that regard, sin is a prophet: it reveals to us in the depths of our being the truth that we are made for something greater; that only God’s laws bring fulfillment; that His Way is the only way. And we can only embark upon this Way in faith… trust that, despite my sin, He still loves me—He who died for me. 

He is present in your life no matter what you do. Time is a sacrament of your meeting with God and his mercy, with his love for you and his desire that everything work toward your good. Then every fault becomes a “happy fault” (felix culpa). If you looked at every moment of your life in this way, then spontaneous prayer would be born within you. It would be a continuous prayer since the Lord is always with you and always loves you. —Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith; cited in Magnificat, July 2017, p. 98

So then, my brother; so then, my sister… 

Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home. (Today’s Gospel)

That is, return to the Father’s House where He awaits you in the confessional to heal, restore, and renew you once again. Return to the Father’s House where He will feed you with the Bread of Life and quench your thirst for love and hope with the Precious Blood of His Son.

Again, and again. 


My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt My goodness… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486

No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)

If you do not succeed in taking advantage of an opportunity, do not lose your peace, but humble yourself profoundly before Me and, with great trust, immerse yourself completely in My mercy. In this way, you gain more than you have lost, because more favor is granted to a humble soul than the soul itself asks for…  —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, 1361





The Paralyzed Soul

The Great Refuge and Safe Harbour

To Those in Mortal Sin


You are loved.
Thanks for your support.


To journey with Mark in the The Now Word,
click on the banner below to subscribe.
Your email will not be shared with anyone.


1 Ps 51:19