Tile Roofs and Brick Walls

Today’s Gospel from St. Luke is one that always touches me. Jesus is teaching in what appears to be a very crowded room. Several men come carrying their friend on a stretcher, hoping that Jesus can heal him. Try as they might, they can’t push their way through the crowds to get to Jesus. Many would have gone away in frustration.

But not these men. Not able to get in the door, they climb up to the roof, remove some tiles and lower their friend on his stretcher through the roof and into the room. And Jesus heals their friend (not to mention forgiving his sins).

As I sat with the passage last night, what came to mind was a video we showed retreatants at a retreat weekend this past August. The video, titled “Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” was of a lecture given by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in August 2007, given terminal diagnosis of 3-6 months of good health before starting to fail. He gave the lecture the following month (which was about 9 months before his death).

One of the things I remember from the video is Pausch’s statement that “Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.” His claim was that brick walls are not there to stop us when we want something badly. They are there to stop people who don’t want it badly enough. Thus, they give us a chance to show our dedication.

We all face obstacles of one sort or another, things that appear to bar our way. The question is how we respond to them. As impermeable brick walls that we give up in the face of? Or with the desire and perserverence of the men who wanted their friend to be healed enough to find a way through when there seemed not to be one?