This story of four men carrying their friend to Jesus is a powerful call to be helpful where we can. They were so determined to get him to Jesus that they opened a hole in the roof above Jesus when their way through the door was blocked because of the crowd. They wanted to get their friend to Jesus because they recognized Jesus as the source of health and life. They were taking their friend to a fuller life. The image of the four who carried their sick friend towards the source of life is a powerful lesson.
I love this story. It is so vivid and vital. There is color and humor, as well as a wonderful image of God’s power and forgiveness. It is also an incident that leaves me with a whole lot to think about on the topic of transformation.
I picture these five friends, the four carrying the paralytic, and the paralytic: together making a difference. I don’t see this as four sound, healthy folks just carrying another person, but a team of five who are going to Jesus. This is not about dependency but about community coming together to get things accomplished.
We need people who are going to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, those we can rely on. Those who will speak truth in love and will help us move forward. To bring real transformation means facing burdens and challenges. To do so alone can be a very difficult place of discouragement and isolation, but with partners we can move forward together. Sometimes God provides these people in unusual places. Sometimes they are surprising people.
We Need Others
At times, we can do little for ourselves and must depend on others for health, life, and safety. At other times, we might be like the friends of the paralyzed man, able to help others to their feet, or bring them from despair to hope. St. Paul urges us to carry each other’s burdens. When we try to do that, we align ourselves with the one who said, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” He wants us to help him to carry the burden of others and help them in any way we can.