Few are not moved by the image of friends who go to great lengths to see us healed. At the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, where I studied for the priesthood, there is a great wooden Raredos behind the altar. It depicts scenes from the New Testament and in one panel is the scene of the paralytic being lowered through the roof. It is my favorite of the twenty panels, because like the image above, the men can clearly be seen going to great lengths to help their downtrodden friend.
This week the entertainment world was (again) stricken with sad news, the death of Whitney Houston. By my un-official count that would be about a half dozen "pop-stars" dying under mysterious circumstances, with drug and alcohol abuse providing the haze. Most recently there was Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, Amy Winehouse and now Houston among others. The news report said Whitney was carousing at rehearsals but did not appear to be herself. The suggestion would be that she was under the influence of "something". This despite the widely known fact that she is a substance-abuser in "recovery".
In our Gospel there are many good lessons for meditation. There is the popularity of Christ so early in St. Mark's Gospel. There is the faith in The Christ that he can heal. There is the discourse between Our Lord and the Pharisees regarding his authority to forgive sinners.
For me, in light of another tragic "hollywood" death, it is the length in which the paralytic friends go to, to put their friend within Christ's reach. They first take apart the roof, then fasten the man in rope and then gently lower him down the roof to be healed.
Where was Whitney's friends and family in her hour of need? Why was she allowed to go on abusing substances? Why were the others allowed to "expire" before their time? Does anyone in the Hollywood set care or are they just happy that there has been a spike in record sales?
My friends we are called to be more than bystanders to those who we love as they make train wrecks of their lives. We are called to bring them to help and loving forgiveness.
Let this week's events and our Gospel be a lesson for us all. Christ is our High Priest and Divine Physician. We would do good to resolve, now and in the future, to be the intervening agent in the lives of those who cannot help themselves. Like those who helped the paralytic meet Christ, we too can do ordinary things that will have extraordinary value in others lives by bringing them to the healing hand of God. He, who makes all things new and is capable of reconciling us all.
To do so we only need to ask for His help and His strength.