Reflection for Friday, January 17, 2003: 1st week in Ordinary Time.
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Bannantine, Tom, S.J.
Some stories from the life of Christ lend themselves well to the imagination. One such story is in the gospel reading for today. Whenever I read this passage from Mark's gospel, I imagine the scene where the paralytic is being lowered through the hole in the roof.||There are several different groups in the scene. First of all, there is the crowd that is listening to the words of Jesus. I see surprise and wonderment on their faces as the paralytic on his mat appears above them. This was certainly an unexpected interruption, and I'm sure those in the crowd were amazed.|Then there are the four stubbornly determined men who carried the paralytic. They were so determined to bring the paralytic to the attention of Jesus that they devised an ingenious scheme and went through the roof. In most homes we are familiar with today, such an escapade would be nearly impossible without tools and heavy equipment. But in the Israel where Jesus lived, the homes were adapted to the warm climate of the area. So it probably wasn't too difficult for the four men to make the hole in the roof. The whole scene appears to have happened spontaneously. The men made the hole in the roof of the house, most probably without asking the permission of the owner of the house. We know nothing of the owner of the house, but it seems probable that he was not pleased with the unauthorized damage to his roof.|Next there is the paralytic. He wanted very much to see Jesus and beg for a cure for his illness. But he had to really trust the four men who were carrying him. After they made the hole in the roof, they lowered the mat on which the man was lying into the room where Jesus was speaking. This must have been a tricky business. The four men had to lower in concert so that the mat on which the paralytic lay would remain flat and he would not fall off. Being paralyzed, he would not have been able to prevent falling, and might have fallen upon and injured others. Certainly he must have been had some anxiety as this risky procedure unfolded.|But as this scene unfolds, our attention is drawn to Jesus. And what is Jesus' reaction to what was happening above him? Jesus admires the faith of the paralytic and the other four men. He sees that the man believes that Jesus can help him. And so the first response of Jesus is to reward the faith of the paralytic by forgiving his sins. In doing so, Jesus shows us the importance of the virtue of faith. I think that Jesus is showing us here the importance of recognizing and knowing and believing in and following him. The rest of this gospel story emphasizes the importance of faith. Jesus cures the paralytic of his paralysis so that the scribes and the others in the crowd who didn't have the faith of the paralytic, could come to know that he is really and truly the Son of God. In this way he hoped that they could understand how important it was to listen to him and his teaching.|Today as we read and ponder this gospel story, Jesus has the same message for us. He says to us: "Come, believe in me, follow me, have faith in me."
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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