6th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year B
When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went around that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowds made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’ Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk?” But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ –he said to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’
The paralytic had good friends. They were almost desperate in their willingness to take on the crowds, and innovative in how they finally got their friend into the presence of Jesus. The encounter with Jesus was life-changing for the paralytic.
The actions of the friends speak to us about the nature of friendship. Ultimately the most important thing we can do for friends is to facilitate their encounter with Jesus Christ.
Our friends may already be Catholics or they may know nothing about Christ. And we may feel very uncomfortable about speaking about our faith in case we appear to be taking advantage of a particular situation they are in, or pushing the boundaries of friendship.
In the encyclical Deus Caritas Est Pope Benedict offers us a deeper insight:
“A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak.”
The friends of the paralytic acted with love and determination on his behalf. Love speaks when we align ourselves with those in need, and actively assist them to do things they cannot do for themselves. Love speaks when we take on the crowd on behalf of our friends. Love speaks when we respond to the whispers of the Spirit in our daily interaction with others.
We can also think of ourselves in the place of the paralytic. His friends' love carried him up to the roof, to the presence of Jesus, to forgiveness and healing. People help us to encounter Jesus often in the events of lives, but it is easy to race on to the next thing and disregard the encounter. Reflecting each day on our encounters with Jesus can lead us to understand more fully how he is present among us.
The crowd were a problem. Sometimes we can be the crowd, ostensibly focused on Jesus but with our backs to people around us in need, possibly even obstructing their access to Jesus because of our indifference to their plight.
This event in the Gospel is one which lends itself to reflection on the question – where am I in this scene?