Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Randy Sly

1/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The friends of the paralytic can show us the way

There was a paralytic in the town who obviously needed the healing ministry of the Lord. While he could do nothing about it himself, four friends wanted to be sure the man received the touch he needed and carried him, stretcher and all, to the house.

I am always captivated by the faith and perseverance of the men who carried their friend. Take a moment and imagine what they must have done to provide their friend with the gift of healing.

Article Highlights

By Fr. Randy Sly

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: healing, paralytic, Jesus, evangelization


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - "How far would I go for a friend?" This was the question I asked myself as I was reading today's gospel, Mark 2:1-12.

Earlier in the week, we read the account in Mark's gospel where Jesus was staying in Capernaum, which had become his center of ministry. It was there that he healed Simon Peter's mother-in-law. This event set off a cavalcade of other miracles as the whole town brought the sick as well as those tormented by demons. The people were in awe of his ministry and returned the next day for more.

Jesus, however, had risen early and gone out to a deserted place to pray. When His disciples found him, they remarked that the people were again waiting for him to lay hands on others. Instead, he told Peter and the others that they were to go to some of the other towns and preach.

Today's reading picks up at the point of His return and the town was ready. Again, the home where he was staying was surrounded by the needy. So many were there that you couldn't even get through the door.

There was a paralytic in the town who obviously needed the healing ministry of the Lord. While he could do nothing about it himself, four friends wanted to be sure the man received the touch he needed and carried him, stretcher and all, to the house.

Arriving at the home, they couldn't get the man close to Jesus. This is where the story gets interesting! Undaunted by the crowd, the men somehow got the man on to the roof of the house, created an opening in the tiles and lowered the stretcher in front of the Lord.

The Gospel goes on to say, "When Jesus saw their faith."

He went on to use this man's situation as an opportunity to underscore His divinity, forgiving the man's sins as well as healing his sickness.

I am always captivated by the faith and perseverance of the men who carried their friend. Take a moment and imagine what they must have done to provide their friend with the gift of healing.

Not only did they have to carry him through the streets of Capernaum to the home where our Lord was staying. They then had to lift him up on to the roof of the house.

The modest dwellings of Capernaum would look nothing like our modern homes. Most were square and normally only story - or sometimes two. They usually had a stairway leading to the flat roof, which was often used as a patio.

So, finding their way through the crowd to the stairs and then bringing their friend along, they would have had to find ropes, dig out an opening in the tiles and then let him down. What an ordeal that must have been!

I can picture the scene from inside the home. As Jesus is teaching, he and the crowd look up to see sunlight streaming through a new opening the men have made. As they continued to watch, a stretcher appears in the opening and is carefully lowered by four ropes, making sure the man isn't kept level at all times.

The rest, as they say, is history.

So, how far would I go for a friend? Would I have taken up one of the poles of the stretcher and carried my colleague to the Lord? Seeing a large crowd, would I have suggested we turn back or look for a way? Had I heard that the savior was returning to the city, would my first thought be that my paralyzed pal needed to meet him?

1. We have something that others need

In Matthew 9:36, the evangelist writes, "At the sight of the crowd, [Jesus] was moved with compassion for them because they harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." The phrase "moved with compassion" really describes an actual physical response to what He saw. In today's language we might say that "He was gripped in His gut."

What troubled Jesus was the condition of people who were being harassed by the circumstances of life that were coming against them, while having no inner strength to withstand the pressure.

I can still remember a science class when I was in elementary school, where we took a vacuum pump and removed all of the air from a gasoline can. This was not one of our modern plastic cans but a steel container. As the air was evacuated from the container, it was as though an invisible hand had taken hold of the object and was squeezing it. In the end all that was left was a crumpled lump of metal. That was an image to true helplessness!

While cultures and technologies have changed since the times of our Lord, humanity is not any better off. We are still harassed and helpless, especially in the area of our spiritual life. As Isaiah wrote, "All we like sheep have gone astray. Each one has turned to his own way." (Is. 53:6)

Each one of us is surrounded by harassed and helpless people. We see them at work, in our neighborhood, at the mall - and often in our own families. As Catholic Christians we possess a grace that each of them needs to truly live.

It is only when we look at other's lives through the lens of the gospel that we see their true condition. From the outside, many people look just fine; they have good jobs, stable incomes and active involvement on a number of fronts.

While their exterior may appear wonderful, they feel dead on the inside. What is really needed is a deep and profound encounter with God. As our Holy Father once said, "How many people also in our time are in search of God, in search of Jesus and of his Church, in search of divine mercy, and are waiting for a 'sign' that will touch their minds and their hearts!"

There are so many who are looking for something that will make a difference in their lives and they are looking for more than just attending a Mass or a meeting. In the seventeenth century, French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal coined a phrase that describes this lack when he said, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."

For many of us, it's hard to believe that people need what we have. We take our faith fore granted, not aware that others are like that paralytic on the inside.

Perhaps the first step is to take a look at our own relationship with the Lord. Back in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of pilgrims in Rome, "Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians... Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world."


2. We can become an instrument God uses

In recent years we have heard a lot about the terms "evangelization" and the "new evangelization." Both Blessed John Paul II, who coined the latter phrase in 1983, and Pope Benedict have emphasized the importance of sharing our faith with others. They are calling us to be stretcher carriers for those who need a healing touch; this is evangelization.

Often, when we think of evangelization, we picture people going door-to-door, handing out pamphlets, or trying to engage total strangers in a theological discussion about their soul. Such visions bring about a sense of dread and discomfort.

Not only does this sound awkward but it also seems overwhelming. We wonder what to do if people ask hard questions. As stretcher carriers, we are not expected to be catechists or apologists.

For the most part, evangelization, as St. Peter described it in his first letter, simply involves being ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within (I Pt. 3:15). Through our baptism, this is our call in this new missionary age.

We can simply share our hope in the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ for our redemption and the difference that He has made in our life right now. As a stretcher carrier, we are called to bring people before Christ and leave the results with Him.


3. We must watch for divine opportunities.

One of the greatest single barriers to helping another come close to our Lord involves the issue of inconvenience. Our schedules can be so hectic and our lives already stressed. Yet, we have a call to get involved in others lives and it might get a little messy.

In our Gospel reading for today, the friends of the paralytic showed an example of true commitment to the needs of another when they headed up to the roof and dug a hole for the stretcher. They showed a determination many of us can emulate.

They also illustrated something else - an eye for opportunity.

Several months ago a friend of mine was speaking at a local chapter meeting of the Catholic Business Network. As a successful business owner, he shared in principle and example how he integrated his faith into his professional life.

One area that he highlighted was the opportunity for evangelization and I really appreciated his perspective. He shared how would approach every acquaintance and relationship from the standpoint of looking for a divine moment. He had noticed how often openings were presented where he could share something about his personal faith without being pushy.

"Watch for those divine moments," he would say. "When they come, simply plant a seed. If someone shares a problem, tell him or her you will be praying. If another expresses displeasure with their quality of life, simply comment about the importance of Christ in your life or invite them to go with your to a church event."

We have what people need - a relationship with Jesus Christ and can be used mightily to bring people to a personal faith if we make ourselves available and look for opportunities - those divine moments - when we can share.

In his apostolic exhortation, "Verbum Domini," Pope Benedict talks about the importance of our proclamation of the "Logos of hope." Here he reminds us that God has a human face and loves us with an everlasting love. Such a message is truly a great gift to the world. "We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. ... It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God's grace, we ourselves have received."

-----
 
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Year of Faith

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading


Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading


The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading


Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading


The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean? Watch

Image of The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. Indeed, we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. (CCC#863)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. Upon his return it will be made complete and fully manifested in a new heaven and a new earth. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present here and now - as seed and sign for a world which is in labor. ... continue reading


Year of Faith: Bringing the Feast of the Presentation of Mary to Life Watch

Image of The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. It recalls the day in the life of the Jewish girl named Mary (Maryam) when her parents, Joachim and Anne, presented her to the Lord in the temple and dedicated her life to Him.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary, let us make the choice to surrender ourselves to the same Lord who Joachim and Ann honored when they presented their dear daughter in the temple. Their daughter, Mary, became the Second Eve. The New Creation was born through ... continue reading


WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Our Lady's Encouragement Watch

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I got off the subway at Termini station and went up to the busy streets of Rome.  I had to walk past the place where all the prostitutes gathered.  I looked down at the street and began to pray in fear.  Suddenly I heard a feminine voice say, "Be a man!" ... continue reading


Tuesday Homily: Conversion and Perseverance in the Life of Faith Watch

Image of Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see the Lord. Such an act could have led to great mockery for a middle-aged public figure. But Zacchaeus didn't care about others' seeing him and the derision that might ensue. He wanted to see the Lord and no obstacle was going to stop him. His example challenges each of us to consider what is the extent to which we go, what trees or obstacles we'll climb, in order to see Jesus more clearly

By Fr. Roger J. Landry

As the Year of Faith draws to a conclusion, we, like Zacchaeus, are called to repent all those times that we haven't set an example of faith for others. And through the intercession of the martyrs Eleazar and Polycarp, we ask God for the grace to set such an example of ... continue reading


We Are all Going to Die. The Important Question is How Are We Living? Watch

Image of We decide whether we use time for bearing good fruit or are used by time as a tyrant who frightens us as we fruitlessly try to resist his claim on our perceived youth. This act of choosing rightly helps us to develop a disposition; a way of living that involves the proper exercise of our human freedom aided by grace. When time is welcomed as an opportunity for bearing the fruits of love and holiness, we receive it in love, perceive it as a field of choice and build an environment for holiness

By Deacon Keith Fournier

As we consider the timeline of God's unfolding plan, the redemption of the whole cosmos, the God who gives and governs time, invites us to re-dedicate ourselves to living differently, in time.  We are to live as though time really does matter. We are invited by ... continue reading


All Year of Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9
1 The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:21-22, 25, 27
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-21
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 17th, 2014 Image

St. Anicetus
April 17: Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter