I heard a sermon a long time ago by a terrific preacher, who used a popular song at that time to begin her reflections on this Gospel reading from Mark. She stood in the pulpit, put her arms in the air, with her palms facing upward and said, This Gospel gives a whole new meaning to Raising the Roof, while she pushed her palms toward the sky, bopping a bit to the beat of unheard music. It was one of those "church moments" where the congregation laughed and was simultaneously sucked into the message she was preaching. (Thank you, Anne, I have always tried to model what you so successfully do in the pulpit when I am preparing to preach.)
These dedicated friends of a paralyzed person were desperate to get him help, but the crowds were too large for them to carry the bier on which this individual lay through them. They got to the roof and dug through, lowering this individual to Jesus.....a very public act of faith on their part. Jesus heals their paralytic friend because of their faith, and the scribes (in their hearts) were upset at what they perceived as Jesus' blasphemy (a private, personal questioning). Jesus understood "in his spirit" what they were doing and rebukes them publicly by having the person lowered down to him get up, pick up his bier, and walk out.
When we see strong acts of faith, such as that of the friends of the paralytic, in which way do we act? Are we quietly pessimistic, even jaded perhaps? Jesus is modeling for us a behavior and reaction to which we all must aspire: reveling in the courage and ingenuity of friends trying to help someone in need. Would we, could we, raise the roof to let someone into our lives who needs and yearns to be part of what we have?
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Outside Jason & Brett's Reception, 2011.