Where are they?

And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Mk 2:3-5

Far too often we think of our spiritual journey during Great Lent as an individual’s journey. Sure, we do common things like fasting and participating in worship, but for the most part we look at how we as individuals can grow in our own beliefs and faith. The gospel reading on the Second Sunday of Great Lent cautions us that our spiritual journey is not a solo journey; our family, friends, and fellow parishioners take this journey with us. They walk side by side with us. They pray with us. They support us in our struggles and likewise we support them.

This is made evident in today’s gospel reading. The paralytic was not by himself. He had people helping him. They not only carried him to the home in which Jesus was teaching, but made sure that he could hear the message Jesus was offering to all the people who had gathered to listen to him… in the house, in the doorway, and outside. So great was the crowd that the only way the paralytic was able to get close to Christ was for those who were with him to climb up on the roof of the home, lift him up on his pallet, take off the roof, and lower him in. ‘They’ become the venue for this paralytic to hear this man speak and to experience his compassion. ‘They’ and ‘their faith’ become the means by which Christ forgives the man of his sins and ultimately heals him of his physical infirmity silencing the scribes and their accusations. ‘They’ and ‘their’ faith (vs 5) in God help this man and help reveal the power and authority of God who is with them. ‘They’ help us understand the name heralded by the angels at the Nativity, ‘Emmanuel -- God is with us.’

We are the ‘They’ for one another. We are the ones who help each other when we are unable to hear or understand the Word of God. We are the ones who offer each other forgiveness and allow one another to feel the true presence of God’s love, compassion, and mercy. We lift up one another and lower ourselves in humility.

So, the next time you think of yourself as someone on the outskirts of the faith or the community, or lacking gifts that can benefit someone else’s faith, remember that you are the one who can carry, or lift, or remove, or lower someone else to be closer to Christ. You help share the burdens each of us bears, not because we expect anything in return, but out of our love and hope for one another in Christ. By sharing of self for someone else we unwittingly strengthen our own faith and give witness to the grace of the Holy Spirit that abounds. We too are healed.