7 th Sunday in Ordinary Time 22 February 2009
The four friends of the Paralytic in todays Gospel (Mark 2:1-12) were convinced that Jesus could do something for their friend. They had faith in Jesus. Did they simply sit back and “bask” in that faith and that trust? They went forward and brought the paralytic to Jesus. But when they saw the crowd, one would think they considered the trip “not worth it.” But no, they pressed forward, taking off the roof of the house and let the paralytic down. Taking a roof off a house back then in First Century Palestine was not a big deal. Roofs could be taken off to let in more air to an otherwise stifling room.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant, very hungry, so hungry in fact that you can almost taste the food that would be served. You get there only to find that the line extends out the door. Frustrated, you turn around and say “Oh, it's not worth it!”
For the Paralytic and his friends, the stakes were just too high not to do something. They had heard that Jesus could do miracles, the blind gain their sight, lepers are healed. If this is true then the lame have a chance to walk. They found Jesus and immediately hope stirred in their hearts.
If it is one thing we need in our day and age, it is hope. Jesus gives us that hope. We look around us at the frightening devastation of our world, economic disasters, the collapse of moral principles, and we despair. What's this world coming to? Yet, at the root of all these troubles is the sinfulness of humanity. Economic crises can be traced to the greed of some in top positions in business. Certain groups (and leaders) who shirk their responsibility to their fellow human beings in favor of their own comfort and convenience. All these things paralyze us. Certainly our own sins paralyze us, and stunt the growth of our friendship with God, our Father. Yet, we also must understand that the sins that each person commits has effects on everyone else. We do not live in a vacuum, but in a community of persons, each having dignity and worth as a child of God.
And so, Jesus sees the paralytic and his friends and rejoices in their faith. The first thing Jesus says to him is, “ Your sins are forgiven!” This tells us what Jesus' true priorities are: healing of the soul. Very often, the sickness of our souls bears itself out in our bodies and our attitudes and behaviors. Jesus in one act of Divine Will, heals both body and soul.
The four friends of the paralytic were convinced that Jesus could heal even before they saw Him first hand. There was a conference some time back at which an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, based on Our Lady of Gaudalupe, was said to have some miraculous appearance. Everyone was crowding around this image just to have a glance at it. Yet one person, a presenter at the conference held back and spent some quality time in prayer before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. She remarked later that while the crowd was in awe of what some might call an optical illusion, they did not even realize that there was a miracle right there in their midst that they paid no heed to: The Real and True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
We read this story and other tales of the life of Jesus Christ and sometimes we wish that Jesus was in our midst, performing all those miracles. Yet, let us remember that Jesus Himself said to His apostles after the Resurrection, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Those are you and me, who have not witnessed all the miracles Jesus performed while He was walking on Earth.
Yet, let us also remember that there is a miracle here, and in a few moments, there will be a great miracle, as Jesus becomes present in this Sacrament of the Eucharist. We may still see bread and wine, but our faith will tell us that Jesus is present, the same Jesus who healed the paralytic, body and soul, and can heal us, if only we break through the barriers that block us from approaching Him. It is worth the effort!