When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,“Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?
But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
We readily recognize the miracle of the paralytic being cured, but the Gospel depicts another miracle—the unselfish devotion of four friends bringing the paralytic to Jesus.
I imagine four men putting their friend on a litter, but, frustrated when they could not draw near to Jesus, they clambered up to the roof; and, while balancing the litter, tore open the roof, then carefully lowered the paralytic down to Jesus. As they did so, Jesus “saw their faith.”
Pope Francis notes, “faith is a gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but is to be shared.” We do not get to salvation on our own. We carry others with us, and sometimes they carry us.
Faith changes lives. The faith of the litter-bearers changed their lives, and the life of their friend. How will Jesus “see my faith” today? Will it be life-changing, for me, for a friend?
―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.
I lift my eyes towards the mountains;
whence shall come my help?
My help comes from the Lord, my God,
who made heaven and earth.