One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.
When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the one who was paralyzed—”I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”
Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
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.
While it isn’t necessarily the main focus of today’s Gospel story, I’ve always admired the creativity and determination of the paralytic’s friends. Blocked by a large crowd, including religious leaders, they aren’t willing to abandon their goal of finding a way to heal their friend. We’ve heard the phrase “when God closes a door, somewhere God opens a window,” but these men adapt it to closing a door and opening a roof. Jesus, upon being presented with a man descending from the ceiling, stops teaching and focuses on the person most in need of his help at that moment.
How often do we allow minor setbacks or inconveniences to prevent us from accomplishing something important? The men in our story aren’t intimidated by the people in the crowd. They don’t let anything stand between them and the Lord. What is standing between you and a deeper relationship with Jesus this Advent?
Lord Jesus, you taught large crowds of followers and religious leaders, and yet you still found the time and compassion to care for one individual. As we live out our discipleship in our own lives, help us to respond to the needs of those around us, whether they may appear large or small. Like the friends of the paralyzed man, may we be steadfast in our desire to get closer to you. Draw us into a deeper friendship with you. Amen.