Pick up your mat and go home
Those men who tore a hole in the roof so as to let down the poor paralytic for a cure, certainly merited the miracle for their persistence. Persistence must also have helped bring healing at Lourdes to modern paralytic, John Traynor.
John was an Irishman born in Liverpool – a strapping laborer. When World War I broke out, he was called up by the Royal Naval Reserve, and took part in the Dardanelles campaign of 1915. One day a Turkish machine gun sprayed his head and chest and severed the nerves of his upper right arm. For five years surgeons tried again and again to repair the multiple damage, but to no purpose. Finally the British government put him on full Navy pension as completely and permanently disabled.
In 1923, Traynor, a devout man, heard of an English pilgrimage bound for Lourdes. He decided to go, even at the cost of much of his savings. Everybody told him the idea was crazy, he would not survive the trip. “If I die at Lourdes,” he replied, “it will be a good place.” He did almost die en route, and again at the Lourdes hospital. The Lourdes physicians who examined him agreed that he was a physical wreck. Yet he insisted in being bathed several times in the miraculous spring. Two days before the pilgrims were to return to England, his legs moved during the bath; and during the Eucharistic blessing afterwards his nerveless arm came to life. He threw off the arm bandage and blessed himself. Next morning he suddenly awoke, jumped from his hospital bed and ran to the grotto in his nightshirt to give thanks. When the doctors examined him before he left on July 27, they recorded his as a remarkable recovery. Traynor himself was completely unaware of what had happened to him until his bishop gently explained to him on the pilgrimage train that he had been cured. All the rest of his life, John was full of gratitude to God and Our Lady. He established a trucking business and was quite successful. When he died in 1943 it was of a hernia, quite unrelated to his wartime injuries.
… Jesus said, “Pick up your mat and go home”. The man stood and picked up his mat and went outside in the sight of everyone. (Mark, 2:10-12. Gospel of the day)
-Father Robert F. McNamara
B203: What happened to the four helpful friends in today’s gospel (Mark 2:1-12) who carried the sick man to Jesus?
Every scripture reading begs us to identify with one or more characters in the script, to make the story “come alive” for us and to help us in our meditation. In today’s reading, try to think of yourself as one of the four unidentified people who tore a hole in the roof (the roof of Jesus’ own home – good thing he was a carpenter) and lowered the sick man down to Jesus.
What I see are four outstanding disciples of Christ – exactly what you and I are called to be and to do! Think about it: who is more paralyzed – you, or the man on the mat? Do you bring people to Jesus? Rather than clucking our tongues in judgment, what do our “sick” friends really need from us? Do you witness to your own faith belief by sharing His healing word with your acquaintances? Each one of us knows someone in our circle of family and friends who is “paralyzed” because of sin and wrongdoing; that person needs you to hear God’s healing word.
Lest we forget, it was the faith of the four friends that caused Jesus to heal and restore the sick man to spiritual wholeness. The physical wholeness was a cure for the sake of the salvation of the doubters. To press the point home, are you the reason that others are NOT restored to spiritual wholeness, because of your inactivity? Are people stuck on their mats forever because of you?
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! Jesus’ first concern is always the spiritual healing of each one of us. He intended that this ministry was continued through his apostles and their successors, when he said “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them” (John 20:23) (CCC #1441-43). Do you make regular (at least monthly is recommended) use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)? Jesus wants to heal us spiritually and physically (CCC #1421). Can you help “lower others through the roof” to enable this to happen? Do I realize that I cannot receive Holy Communion if I have committed a mortal sin (CCC #1457), but must first receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
“I Am Doing Something New”
The story of the paralytic and his friends is one of the more dramatic episodes in Mark’s Gospel. Imagine the scene. Jesus is sitting there teaching the people in the crowded room and suddenly the thatched roof is torn apart and a man is lowered to the feet of Jesus. It is a classic example of overcoming obstacles, and Jesus, recognizing it as such, responds, but not the way they expect. Instead of saying, “You are cured,” he says, “Your sins are forgiven.” That changes the whole point of the story. Of course, Jesus does cure the man, but the real question now is: “Who is this Jesus?” If he is just another wonder worker satisfying the need of the crowd for spectacular wonders, they can understand and deal with it. But to claim to forgive sins, and simply by his word instead of through the established rituals of atonement, that is something new. Thus the healing of the paralytic becomes a sign, a sign of Jesus’ primary mission — to overcome sin, the alienation of human beings from God. This will be the greatest wonder of Jesus’ career, accomplished through the cross and resurrection. Mark reminds us that the grace we have from Jesus must show itself in how we live, in our efforts to know the will of God. In the Gospel we learn that eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood is the way to share in his life and wisdom. As St. Paul tells us we ought to give thanks always and for everything we have received from Jesus our Lord. Giving thanks is exactly what the word “Eucharist” means.
Dear Lord, give us the wisdom to know your will and sustain us in our efforts to become what you would have us be. Perfect our faith and increase our love for you above all things.