And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”
But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ 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 then said to the paralytic—’stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home.
When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
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.
“Some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed,” today’s Gospel says. Boring! I like another gospel version of this story (Mark 2:1-12), where four stretcher bearers, finding Jesus in a jam-packed house, resort to lowering their paralytic friend through a hole in the roof. Perhaps you are thinking: “Chris, you’re missing the whole point: the story is about Jesus’s power to heal sinfulness, not about the stretcher bearers.” Well, I might be missing the main point, but not the whole point.
Yes, we’re all sinners in need of the Lord’s healing, and sometimes we initiate our turn toward the Lord all by ourselves. But often enough, our friends, family, or others help to bring us to the Lord, by their good example that makes us reconsider our own ways, or by faithfully accompanying us through our struggles. So, let’s give a prayerful shout out to those unheralded “people” who brought the paralytic to the Lord. Who have been the stretcher bearers for you? And, who have you helped to accompany or bring to the Lord?
—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.
Lord, thank you for all those stretcher bearers you have sent into my life, parents, friends, teachers, bosses mentors—all those who helped to bring me to you, by their example, encouragement, accompaniment, or challenging words. Amen.