Lent Reflections @ CEC (2/28/20)
"Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." -- Pope Francis
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 2: 1-17; focused on 2.1-5, 11-13
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven… I tell you, get up, take your mat, and go home.” He got up, took his mat, and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
The Power of Faith in Action
I cannot count the number of times I have read and heard this passage of scripture. It was a favorite story in Sunday School classes and at Vacation Bible School when I was a child, and it remains a common sermon illustration of the divinity of Jesus: of his power to heal and of his authority to forgive sins, something God alone can do.
In various Biblical accounts of miraculous healings, such as that of the blind beggar mentioned later in Mark’s gospel and of the woman with the issue of blood who reaches out to touch Jesus’ robe in Luke’s, Jesus acknowledges the role played by the faith of the afflicted person, saying, “Go, your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52, Luke 8:48). In this excerpt from the second chapter of Mark, however, what stood out to me today was the phrase “when Jesus saw their faith,” referring to the four who had lowered their friend through the roof and into his presence. Here, as in the story of the Roman centurion in Luke 7 who trusts in Jesus’ authority to heal his sick servant even without being physically present, Jesus marveled at the faith, not of the one who was ill, but rather of the friends who had taken the time and trouble to bring the sufferer to his attention.
For me, this story reaffirms how important it is that we continue to bring others into the presence of Jesus, whether in prayer or by acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that he lays upon our hearts and minds to do. What better thing can we do than to pray for the people we know and love, most especially for those who for some reason are unable to come to Jesus on their own? How better to serve our Lord than to minister to the people he has placed in our lives by helping them to do what they lack the strength or ability to accomplish by themselves?
According to this scripture, the faith of those who believe in the transforming power of Jesus and the actions of those who trust in his compassion can be instrumental in accomplishing his healing work in the world. May we be ever mindful of the ways in which we can bring others into the presence of Jesus so that he can manifest his healing power in their lives.
Jesus, help us to notice the needs of those around us and have faith enough to bring them to you to meet their every need.