Jesus did not cure him, but planted a seed of hope in his heart. Persevering in that hope, and trusting in that love, the paralytic continued to beg at the Temple gate, year in and year out, until one day…
In the heart of Palestine, there lived a couple who followed the Law of Moses faithfully, and ardently believed in the Lord God of Israel. They had a son, named James, who was paralyzed from birth. A clever and lively boy, he suffered much from his disability, which kept him from playing with the other children and meant that he would be unable to help his parents in their work when he grew older.
One day, while he lay pensive in his bed, his mother said to him: “My son, I do not know what God has in store for you, but let me give you a golden rule: never, ever lose hope! When the Lord sees that a person’s trial has reached its peak, He intervenes.”
These words deeply comforted the child and he never forgot them, but cherished them in his heart.
Many years later, when James had grown up and his parents had died, he had no way to earn a living but by sitting at the gate of Jerusalem’s great Temple, relying on the charity of passers-by.
One day, while begging at his usual post, he saw a tumultuous crowd and heard someone say: “Jesus is coming – the one who works miracles!”
“Take me to Him! Take me to Him!” James beseeched two men who were standing close by. They agreed and carried him between them to the Nazarene. Arriving before Jesus, James cried out: “Lord, have mercy on me! I have been paralyzed from birth and badly want to be cured!”
Everyone – especially James – had their eyes riveted upon the Master in anticipation of yet another miracle. With great compassion and gentleness, however, Jesus gave an unexpected reply: “Son, I want you to be healed, and you shall indeed walk, but only on the day that has been set by my Father who is in Heaven.”
At these words, James neither rebelled nor became sad. On the contrary, he was filled with joy to hear the Saviour’s sweet voice. His resignation to God’s will filled the Angles with wonder and gladdened Our Lord’s Heart.
Years after that meeting, we find James still begging at the Temple gate. He would fill his days by remembering his mother’s advice, and especially Jesus’ promise. Some thought he should give up hoping: “You really are a dreamer!” they mocked him. “Now that your Jesus has been put to death, isn’t it time to stop waiting for a miracle? How can you cling to such an empty hope?”
When James was alone, he would ponder his sad situation, but without losing faith: “Jesus clearly told me that I would walk one day. I know that He was killed, but I am sure that somehow He will keep His promise. Somehow, I will see Him again!”
And, bolstered in his confidence, he always added this beautiful prayer: “When and how my cure will come, I know not… But whatever comes to pass, blessed be the will of the Lord! God knows what is best for me!”
One day, as he finished this prayer, James saw two men approaching the Temple – one was somewhat elderly, and the other younger. By their look, he was sure they would help him.
“Good sirs! I live from alms. Would you be so kind as to help me?”
The men, whose names were Peter and John, stopped and said to him:
“Look at us.”
He looked up at them intently, hoping to receive something. Then Peter said:
“Gold and silver I have not, but what I have, I give you freely: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” And, taking him by the right hand, he helped him to his feet.
With a great bound, James arose to his feet and started walking. He entered the Temple with them, leaping for joy and glorifying his Creator with a loud voice: “God is good, God is merciful! He gave me faith in His Son! Jesus truly is the Messiah! In his followers Peter and John, He has come back to cure his unworthy servant! He kept hope alive my soul all these years, and I was not disappointed! Blessed be the name of Jesus, and of His Father who is in Heaven! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
All the people, even those who had mocked him, now gasped in amazement: “The Nazarene really does live on forever!”
Later that day, James once again met up with his old acquaintances who used to discourage him. They now looked at him uncomfortably, and after a long and awkward silence, one finally said in a suspicious tone:
“Now that it’s only us here, tell us the real story. Where did you get enough money to pay those men to heal you?”
“After all…” added another, “we all know that nobody would ever do a good deed like that for free. You have surely found the secret to success for any situation. What is it?”
And James replied:
“This miracle cost so much that no gold in the world could pay for it. Yes, the price of this cure was love for God and the hope of my entire lifetime.”
From that day on, James went about far and wide, proclaiming the power and the mercy of Jesus to all. And he never tired of saying that even when Our Lord seems to ignore our requests, he never disappoints those who trust in Him. In His tenderness and compassion, He always wants what is best for His children. ◊