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  • Sarah Raad

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Updated: Jan 18, 2021

In the Gospels, Christ showed us that true love is the willingness to make sacrifices for a friend.

The Palsied Man Let Down through the Roof (Le paralytique descendu du toit) (James Tissot)

I have a student who comes to see me at work, and her father is overseas in the final stages of COVID. His Earthly life is coming to an end. She only migrated here from her Father’s country with her family a few short months ago. The last time she hugged him, she surely did not anticipate that it would be the very last time they would touch each other in this Earthly life. And yet, now, this woman and her family must come to terms with loss – and for this they need our prayers, as does her father, who must resist the final temptation of this Earthly life, when the Evil One is most determined to steal souls, and find strength instead in God’s embrace.


Loss debilitates us. It isolates us and makes us weak. It is paralytic.


I have long ago stopped believing in coincidences. While I was praying for this soul and his family this morning in Mass, I listened to the Gospel and heard the truly beautiful story of the paralytic man from the Gospel of Saint Mark.


This was one of Christ’s earlier public miracles and is an important story for many reasons.


The paralytic man had been paralysed since childhood and was unable to take himself to see Christ to ask for His healing. So, his friends gathered around him at presumably great inconvenience to themselves, and carried him – literally carried him – to Christ.


When they arrived, they could not find a way to reach Christ, so again at presumably great inconvenience to themselves, this man’s friends climbed a roof – again, literally carrying him – onto the roof of someone’s home. Then, to reach Christ, they proceeded – without apology – to tear a hole in that roof so that they could lower their friend down to Christ – literally carrying him down to Christ.


Their faith was so great that they made no apology or excuses. They were driven – frantically and through love of their friend – to find a place for him at God’s own feet.


And then, our beloved Christ – out of love – did not worry about physically healing the man first, though that was what the man had asked for. No. Christ is God and God provides what we need – not what we want!


First, Christ healed the man’s soul. He forgave the man’s sins, at presumably great inconvenience to Himself because this allowed the Pharisees to badger Him and make false accusations against Him. Then, after the man’s soul was saved and out of danger when his sins were forgiven… then, and only then, did Christ heal the man’s body too.

Today, when I heard this very familiar story – though it speaks of miracles, and healing and forgiveness – the message that I heard was a message of community and a message of love.

I saw in this example provided for us in the Gospel, the wonderful love of one for another. I saw a community who loved their neighbour as themselves, despite the difficulties, inconvenience and obstacles.


I saw the love that the bore him through their unapologetic actions of faith – doing what was necessary – whatever that was – to ensure that the man reached God’s own feet. They literally tore down a roof and carried the guy just to get him into the room with Christ!


What am I doing to get close to God? How many roofs have I even look up at, much less climbed up onto or broken down?


And once they were in the room with Him, God HELPED THEM. He helped their friend, and surely, they – through their efforts to help him – surely they too were helped and healed? After all, isn’t that the purpose of Prayer and Grace?


So when I think of those I love, who are paralysed by sin, fear and disbelief, and when I feel tired of butting my head against a brick wall by trying to reason with them and the way to God seems dark and hopeless, perhaps, I too, could learn from the friends of the paralytic man? For those I love who are paralysed as they have forgotten or rejected God, perhaps I could carry them to Christ – literally carry them to His feet. I could not do this with my Earthly arms – for they are weak. But through prayers – through Grace afforded through my prayer – much could be done. For though I am weak, lucky for me, I have a strong God!


And maybe I could start looking up occasionally… just so that I will not accidentally pass by the perfect roof?


For with prayer everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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