The mention of the city of Capernaum at the beginning of today’s Gospel by Mark is quite significant. It helps to set the context of his narrative. Capernaum means “Village of comfort.” It is a city where Jesus preached most of his missions accompanied by great signs (Cure of a demoniac Mark 1, 21-28; Cure of Simon’s mother-in-law in Mark 1, 29-31, many cures, cure of a leper). So, one would believe that Jesus was well-known in Capernaum. No wonder why many people were desirous to be with him. He was an incarnation of the name of the city. Jesus does more than comfort people, he transforms lives both inside and outside. Let’s see how this comes into play in today’s Gospel.
His Message Gladdens the Heart
Jesus preached to people who gathered around him. They enjoyed listening to him because he speaks with authority but also his words touch souls and gladden hearts. Today, presenting the Word of God as a life-giving message is a big challenge for the Church. Jesus spoke not only with words but also through his actions. And we see this in his encounter with the paralytic brought to him by men.
Mark did not mention the identity of the four men. We can presume that they were friends or relatives of the paralytics. They must have heard about Jesus. Their gesture could be interpreted as an act of love. Their desire to get near Jesus encountered an obstacle: the crowd. Like Zacheus, who had to overcome the obstacle of the crowd to see Jesus, these four men also had to overcome their obstacles. And this is where we see creative faith. Instead of being deterred by the obstacle, it rather became an opportunity for creativity: “they opened up the roof above Jesus… and let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.”
These Four Men Teach Us the Importance of Solidarity
The presence of each of them was necessary to maintain the balance of the mat. As Christians, we are challenged in our capacity and willingness to collaborate with others in coming to the aid of those isolated, suffering, handicapped, unloved, etc. This type of selfless service to others requires of us much creativity, but also endurance.
Jesus Heals Soul and Body
Jesus interpreted the gesture of the four men as a sign of faith. Thus, he teaches us that faith always goes together with action. Here we have what could be called creative faith that moved the heart of Jesus. He came to the rescue of the paralytic thanks to the faith of these four men. God can intervene in the life of others thanks to our faith and actions. The first message Jesus addressed to the paralytic is a message of forgiveness: “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
By calling him “child” Jesus reminds him of his fundamental identity: he is a child of a merciful God. The fullness of life that Jesus brings is not limited to physical healing; it is above all reconciliation with God, and restoration of the link between us and God our Father. Through Jesus, God the Father wants to re-establish heart-to-heart contact with all his children and give them a share in his life through the Holy Spirit.
In his second message to the paralytic Jesus says: “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He obeyed Jesus’s word picked up his mat at once and went away in the sight of everyone. Obedience to the Word of God opens up doors to amazing graces. In the light of this narrative, we see that although sins paralyze human life, with Jesus there is the hope of reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing. No matter how deeply lives might have been wounded, today’s Gospel tells us that healing and restoration are possible.