p a x
“Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child your sins are forgiven’… They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” – Mark 2:4-5, 12
Lent is one of those liturgical seasons that has a way of sneaking up on me.
One moment we’re singing Christmas songs at Mass, admiring the poinsettias that have been strategically placed all around the Church, and then all of a sudden we’re being asked to bring in our palms for Ash Wednesday.
We start asking questions about what we should “give up”, consider the usual options like chocolate, TV, and Facebook, and mark our calendars to attend the Friday Night Fish Fry (probably brought to you by the Knights of Columbus). Ready or not Lent still comes… a season of sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving.
But I have to ask myself, do I really understand what Lent is all about? Surely it is more than sacrificing sweets for 6 weeks?
One of the Sunday readings that has helped me wrap my head and heart around this Lenten season was the “Healing of the Paralytic” from Mark 2:1-12. This isn’t your usual miracle story; in fact, it’s probably one of the strangest healings we hear about in Mark’s Gospel. We have a paralyzed man and his four companions. Jesus is preaching at home, the house is packed full of people, so what do these guys do? Head to the roof.
You have to wonder what that must have been like. Jesus standing there, preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, when all of a sudden a man is lowered through the ceiling. I’d like to think Jesus smiled, maybe even chuckled to himself with their creative methods of reaching him. Going through the roof may have been an unusual or even an awkward option, but it was a sign that these men had faith… So much faith that they were willing to do whatever it took to get to Jesus.
The group of people that had come to see Jesus in the home were probably people of faith as well. They gathered to hear Jesus preach the word. They came in, sat down, and listened. This is good, but what makes the four men and paralytic so astounding is the extra effort they went through to get to Jesus. And of course, they are not disappointed. The man is healed and the crowd says ‘”We have never seen anything like this!”
For many of us, Lent is a time of doing the usual sacrifices. We “give up” things, try to pray more, and maybe even add a random act of kindness here or there. These are all great things. But maybe this Lent God is calling us to something more. Maybe something unexpected, something that shows that we are really trying our best to welcome Jesus into our lives.
Lent is a time to ask, “How much am I willing to give for love of Christ? How far am I willing to go?” Maybe it’s going to daily mass in the early hours of the morning, or spending some time with him in the adoration chapel, or maybe Christ is calling us to befriend that person that gets under our skin the most.
This Lent, Christ is calling us through the roof. It might be painful, it might even be a little awkward at times, but if we’re willing to give ourselves to him in faith, we will never be disappointed. Perhaps we will even see something in Lent and Easter that we’ve never seen before.
This is the journey. This is our faith.
be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid