Friday, February 17, 2006

The Leaky Roof in Marc's Gospel

Marc's Gospel story of Sunday, February 19 was indeed a very interesting one. Since I was a little boy I wondered how people were able to come through a roof and into the middle of a living room full of people. Over the course of my life I have been in some houses where an action of this type could have taken place. I have to admit that every time I read this story it makes me smile, and it makes me wonder.

Imagine the scene. A house full of people, so full that they are spilling out into the yard. Imagine Jesus in the place, trying to make His point to a crowd of people who are there because this is the best entertainment that they have had in the village in a long time. The rabbis perhaps do not come because they only worship in the Temple where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. But this new man of God, this ambulent Prophet who has a reputation for healing people is here today.

The well people are there, wall-to-wall. The paralytic wants to go too. How often does he get to see these famous people? How often does he have a good reason to get out of the house? who will take him?

Somehow on this day, four brawny youths happen to be around and they are seeking Jesus, so they decide to give this poor chap a break. But when they get to the site, they have to get creative. They do not want to miss Jesus. The paralytic does not want to miss Jesus. So, they figure, "let's drop in on them."

So, they put a hole in the roof and they lower the paralytic to the floor in front of Jesus. Jesus stays unperturbed, looks at the young man and says, "Young man, your sins are forgiven." Now, I ask you, doesn't that greeting sound a little strange to you? Is the paralytic a sinner? How about the four men who ruined the roof? Aren't they sinners? How about them?

But then Jesus says, "Pick up your mat and walk."

Notice that something is missing here. Jesus does not say, "your faith has saved you" or something to that effect. He just cures the man. Was the man's sin that his motives for wanting to see Jesus were not right? Was it that when he heard that his sins were forgiven that he couldn't help but to be cured? After all, when you are sinless, your being is perfect, is it not? I can't help but think that the four people who presented him to Jesus were the "faith pool" that provided the spiritual environment that Jesus looked for when He blessed someone with such extraordinary graces. They were the missionaries who brought the paralytic before God and their offering of time and effort had something to do with the result.

I am all the more convinced of this when I see the juxtaposition between them and the religious leaders who were questioning the authority of Jesus. The comparison between the two groups is stunning. On the one side, a group of holier-than-thou Scribes and Pharisees and on the other, four people who believed enough to perform a daring act to bring about the salvation, spiritual and physical of a sick person. We all know the outcome.

This is what I like about the Gospel. Those who dare, win.

It's the Gospel challenge. God help us, we will be up to it.

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