In the Catholic Lectionary, Monday’s Gospel reading is Luke Chapter 5, verses 17 through 26. It’s the story where the paralyzed man can’t get in to a particular house to see Jesus. He is obviously seeking to be cured so he can stand and walk again. Or maybe for the first time. We don’t have enough background information to know. We don’t actually have any background information.
But the thing that strikes me as the most interesting part of this account, other than the moment when he does rise and carry his mat home, praising God the whole time, is when Scripture says “some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed.” Some men. Hmm.
Who were these men? I always like to imagine them as his friends. Good friends, close friends, the kind of friends not everyone is blessed to have in this life. But this guy knows people who would do anything for him. I can see my husband and his friends coming up with a plan like this, to help out their buddy. That thought makes me smile.
So, first they walk all the way to the house, the house that is filled with and crowded around outside by throngs of people. They may not have even known how far they’d have to walk when they started out. And they may not have known where they were going when they headed out.
But they saw the crowd. They probably felt disappointed and maybe frustrated when they realized there was no room for them to maneuver with the unwieldy stretcher they carried between them.
And then one of them, the most clever, the most innovative, the most daring, (the one with the most faith?) said, “Let’s get him up on the roof!”
The roof?! “Yes! We’ll move the tiles out of the way and we’ll lower him down with ropes, it’ll be a sort of pulley system that uses a cross beam to throw ropes over and attach to one side of the stretcher and then we can ease him down that way.”
Now, I don’t know how big these men were or how strong these men were, or how big the guy on the stretcher was, but the whole thing could not have been easy and could not have happened very quickly.
I suppose the crowd was noisy. Everyone talking, laughing, maybe even pushing and raising their voices trying to get a good view, or close enough for Jesus to heal them or their friends.
I can’t imagine what everyone thought when the stretcher began to descend from above. But I really like those guys!
I am a fan of true friends, of creative thinkers when it comes to helping others, of productive and positive energy being expended to make good things happen.
And it appears that Jesus is, too. The story goes, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven’.”
It is the faith of the other men, as well, who carried their friend to this place, hoisted him up on the roof, removed tiles, and then rigged a pulley to lower him down in front of Jesus that is remarkable and results in Jesus forgiving the man his sins and healing him, too. I think there’s a lot of faith involved among all these friends.
These men were compassionate and had faith in the compassion of Jesus.
And there is also a lot of love involved. Love of their buddy that may have enhanced their own faith. That’s how it should work. We are meant to live in community.
Let us share our faith in God in all we say and do, and let’s get our friends and family to come along. And maybe even work together, diligently, with all our might and with a singular focus to glorify God and enhance His kingdom. Only good things can come of that.