I believe that today’s readings invite us to look at our faith through two different lenses. The first lens is from the point of view of the four men bringing a paralytic to Jesus. Imagine the power of their faith; to stop at nothing to get their friend before Jesus believing that this was his best chance. The message for us here is to never underestimate the power of our own faith in situations like this one.
Is there someone in your life who is “sick” and needs to be brought to Jesus? It doesn’t have to be so radical as we read in today’s Gospel. It can be as simple as bringing them to prayer. Clearly in this scene the paralytic’s faith or desire for healing is not mentioned the focus is on the men who brought him. This suggests that healing can come through your faith alone. Never forget that. Our God is so close to those who suffer that he hears the cries of friends on behalf of the sick person. He desires healing for all.
Think about the layers of roof those men had to remove—the work of bringing someone for healing suggests that we are to leave no stone (or roofing layer) unturned. Many times, in my life when praying for someone’s healing, I have visualized this scene substituting the paralytic for the person I am praying for at that moment. Over the years, it has served as a beautiful way for me to pray as I “lower” people to the presence of Jesus.
The other lens I believe is that of the paralytic, there are times when we need to allow the people in our lives to bring us to Jesus for healing. To be open to healing even if we cannot see it for ourselves; to choose hope! Are there layers of pain, hurt, confusion, bitterness, loneliness, sorrow, unforgiveness preventing us from coming before Jesus and asking for healing? Like the roof which was opened up as a passageway to Jesus. There is always hope to remove the obstacles so as to allow Jesus to work in our lives.
Jesus was preaching the Word to the people and always calling us forth to rest in him. We can have mixed up ideas on exactly what rest means. It is the Sabbath rest which nourishes us for today. It is the foundational movement in keeping us close to Jesus as expressed in our first reading. May we truly profit from the Word.
May we all come to understand the gift and power that our faith offers us and how it is strengthened by our resting (praying) in the Lord while we live on this earth. Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.