Posted: 21 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST (Catholic Exchanged)
Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25 / 2 Cor 1:18-22 / Mk 2:1-12
Three men came upon a fiercely raging river which they absolutely had to cross. But they were scared to death and didn’t know what to do. So the first man prayed, “Lord, give me the strength and courage to cross this river.” And poof, God gave him huge arms and strong legs, and he swam across that river in only two hours.
The second man prayed too. “Lord, please give me the courage and ability to cross this river.” Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he rowed across in only three hours.
The third man was so scared that he couldn’t move. So he prayed fervently, “Lord, please give me the strength and ability to cross this river.” Poof! God turned him into a woman, and she walked across the bridge in two minutes!
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At times we all get paralyzed and just can’t move. Sometimes it’s fear of the unknown that freezes us in place. Sometimes it’s grief that plunges us into darkness so deep that we can’t think. Sometimes it’s the memory of past failures that makes our heart shrink and turn into itself. Sometimes it’s anger or an old grievance that steals life and energy from us and leaves us dead in the water.
Whatever its cause, spiritual paralysis is something everyone experiences at some time in life. And that’s why Sunday’s gospel has such a valuable lesson for us. The paralyzed man needed healing, in body and spirit. But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t get to Jesus. So his friends did for him what he couldn’t do for himself: They carried him to the place where he could be healed. They made an opening in the roof and carefully lowered him into Jesus’ presence! And Jesus did the rest.
It’s a perfect model for what we need to do for one another. When our friends hit a time of paralysis — from grief, fear, or whatever, we can pick them up and, ever so gently, carry them spiritually to a ‘place’ — not a physical but a spiritual place — where healing can happen and their future can be re-imagined. We can help make an opening to a new road.
Finding that opening, or creating it, takes time, and the process of helping our friend move through that opening may be slow. But it’s holy work, God’s work, to carry our brothers and sisters when they can’t walk on their own and when they can see no openings in the blank walls that surround them.
Think how often God has done that for us: Carried and carried us until at last we’re ready to receive his healing. There’s only one way we can ever thank God for that: By carrying one another as he has carried us, helping our friends find the openings through the walls and into grace and healing, helping them see the bridge and walk across it.
What we have received as a gift, let us give as a gift.