We need to engage our faith and its stories in an imaginative way. It’s not enough to leave our faith to the experts. Like anything important, faith should engage our minds and hearts and imaginations.
Our gospel story for today, for example, begs us to think about it. Have you every thought about the poor fellow who’s paralyzed and was brought to Jesus for help?
How did it happen, you wonder? Was he a fishermen there in Caphernau, and one day his wife tells him there’s a leak in the roof. So he gets a rickety ladder and climbs up. The ladder gives way and he fall fifteen feet unto the dark basalt rock below. Caphernaum was built on that.
He can’t get up; he can’t move. Some of his friends come. Nothing they can do, so they take him into his house to his wife and kids, and that’s where he lay helpless–who knows how long?
It’s a tough thing to lie on your back and can’t move. It has to wear your spirits down.
Then, Jesus comes to live in Peter’s house in Caphernaum. And the man’s friends–thank God for friends like this–come and pick him up and take him there, because they hear that Jesus can cure you.
But they can’t get near the place; it’s jammed with people. So they pull him up to the roof. Did he say “This is the last place I want to go.” And they cut a hole in the roof large enough to lower the poor man down, right to Jesus’ feet.
“Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus says to him. “I’m taking away the cold darkness freezing your soul… Get up and take up your mat and go home.”
And the man went home. He must have put his arms around his wife and his family. She probably told him never to go up on a ladder again. We never hear about him after this.
Like so many in the gospels, he’s a sign that God wishes to heal what’s broken in our world.
So his story makes us hope for the paralysis we see maybe in ourselves, maybe in our world so often frozen in its inability to bring about peace and justice. Like the friends of the paralyzed man, we bring our paralyzed world to the feet of Jesus, that he bring life to our souls and bodies. The Lord is here as he was there.
I wonder, too, about Peter–the miracle took place in his house. His life was certainly changed when Jesus came to live with him. All those people at his door. After the man left, I wonder if Peter looked at his roof and asked “Who’s going to put that back?”
But that’s for another day.