“Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them”  Mark 2:3

“When Jesus saw their faith their faith; He said to the paralyzed man: ‘ Son, your sins are forgiven’.”  Mark 2:5

Have you ever read something that you have, in the past read over and over, and all the sudden something new jumps out at you?  That’s what happened to me recently with the story in the Gospel of Mark verses 1-12.  Here’s what jumped out at me.  Up until this past reading this seemed to be a story of 6 principal characters plus the doubting Jewish leaders; you had Jesus of course, a paralytic man, four people bearing him and a home owner.  The supporting characters were the crowds that so surrounded the house as to block its entrance.

What is different now?  The community around this man.  You see there’s more than just four men supporting this man.  Some men, SOME MEN; you see there were more than four.  And I’m not trying to say that four can’t be a community but with the greater number I see an even greater faith story coming out.

First, someone in that community had to have heard of Jesus; who knows maybe one of them even saw Him, saw Him perform another miracle.  This person, whoever he or she was had to think of the others and set off to find them and tell them about it.  That is a hallmark of a community; the desire to spread good news.

We don’t know if this person was also thinking of the paralytic and that Jesus could heal him or if that idea came from somewhere else in the community.  However, this much is clear, the community believed that Jesus could heal their paralytic friend or they would not have undertaken the journey in the first place.  So four men out of this community pick up their paralytic friend on his mat and off they go.

But now the community encounters a problem; they can’t get in to see Jesus.  One gets the sense that at least one of their party got close enough to verify the Jesus was indeed in the house and that He was preaching; but entry through any normal means was barred. Again the community kicks in; they are not going to take no for an answer.  Again, we don’t know who came up with the idea to climb onto the roof, but the community’s faith had to be strong enough to consider such a radical idea a valid one.

Here again it makes sense that there were more than just four men.  Because for one, to lift the man to the roof it would have been extremely difficult if all four men were not already up there.  Even with the four of them up there; it would take extraordinary concentration and cooperation to make sure they worked together as one unit and did not spill the poor helpless man out.  So if the four were on the roof; who gave them the ropes once they were up there.  One can also easily imagine others staying behind on the ground helping to steady the mat, taking some of the weight burden off the men on the roof and gaurding against any tragic fall of their friends.

Now this part of the story is primarily in the four mens’ hands.  They disassemble the roof (funny you hear no irrate complaints from the homeowner) and they lower the man down.  Jesus seeing their act, understanding the great effort it took the entire community to get the paralyzed man to this point; seeing the act of selfless love; has mercy on the paralytic man and forgives his sins.

So let’s go back for a moment to the rest of the community; those people who are still standing outside.  One can imagine them straining to try and catch a glimpse of what is happening on the roof.  Perhaps they’re calling out to their friends on the roof asking what is happening.  But on their faces are not the expressions of fear, frustration or dread.  No their faces have the expressions of excited anticipation, jubilent expectation, they have the faces of faithful hope.  Jesus knows of their faith too.

So what does this community of faith get for all if its efforts?  The one thing they really, trully wanted.  One again can imagine the jumps (those on the roof having to be very careful) and shouts for joy as the paralytic man, picks up his mat and walks straight out of the home.  What the community of faith receive; afformation.  They received the afformation that Jesus who has come as the Christ; God’s only one begotten Son, noticed their humble act of faith and rewarded them for it.  They knew, some without even seeing Him; that they had been in the presence of the Messiah.  And the Messiah loved them.  Imagine being in that community that night, walking away with one once lame.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, we don’t have to imagine.  We too, even today, can be in a powerful community of faith.  We can know that the Messiah; Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will notice our acts of faith and will gladly proclaim to us as well; your sins are forgiven.  We can certainly know the same the afformation that was experienced by that earlier group so many years ago.  Jesus Christ is calling.  Jesus Christ is healing.  Jesus Christ is forgiving sins.  And we can be completely certain of this; there is always a path to be found to the presence of Jesus Christ.  Let us strive to find a community where we can help each other travel that path.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You that You have seen fit to bring other believers into our lives to form a community.  Help us to always be looking out for one another; being strong enough to carry others when needed and humble enough to allow ourselves to be carried when we are in need.  Increase our faith through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we will never stop seeking to be where Jesus Christ is.  That our community may be a beacon of light to a world plunged deep into darkness.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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