Today’s Gospel is St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ healing of a paralytic. It is how the paralytic got before Jesus that most touches me in this passage.
Jesus, having returned to Capernaum, is preaching in a room filled with people. Mark recounts that so many were gathered to listen to Jesus that there was “no longer room for them, not even around the door.”
Upon this scene come four men, determined to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus to be healed. But they can’t get near him because of the crowds. I can imagine them trying to fight their way through the crowds to get in the door. At some point they must have realized the futility of their effort. I can only imagine their frustration and disappointment.
The normal response would have been to give up. To tell their paralyzed friend they gave it their best shot, but that it was time to go home. But not these four men: Realizing the impossibility of gaining entrance the usual way, the climb to the roof (which could not have been easy while carrying a mat with a paralytic on it), break open the roof of the building and lower their friend in through the opening in the roof in order to reach Jesus.
Mark tells us that “When Jesus saw their faith,” he healed the paralytic. And surely, the men had incredibly strong faith to do what they did.
But they also had tremendous love. For absent that they surely would not have undertaken what seems like a crazy thing to do.
We often say to people, “Call me if you need anything.” But do we always mean it? Is our love for others so great that we will do, not only the easy things, but the things that require way more than the normal effort?
The four men in today’s Gospel are a model of faith, to be sure, but they are also a model of great love.