I WENT DOWN THROUGH THE ROOF … (until I came face to face with him) … here, probably, will have begun the recollections of a man (or Everyman?) deeply involved in a humankind story intended to be heard and seen by as wide an audience as possible – hence the big entrance! Involved in a story that came to be described as GOSPEL, as GOOD NEWS, the story of a Man (or Everyman?) who was (is) PARALYSED: (much like some parts of the Church particularly, and much of humankind generally, appear, perennially, to be today).
Some men appeared, bringing on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as they could find no way of getting the man through the crowd, they went up onto the top of the house and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’
The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man, talking blasphemy? Who but God alone can forgive sins?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed man – ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’ And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God. They were all astounded and praised God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’ Luke 5 17-26 JB
Friends bring a paralysed Man (or Everyman?) to the One they believe can administer healing. Oddly a debate flares up because forgiveness is offered instead.Forgiveness instead of healing! Damn! That’s not what we came for. And – at any rate – this forgiveness stuff is bordering on the blasphemous. An odd little, mean little end to the story?
Except that it wasn’t the end. And the story wasn’t little. Turned out that the forgiveness CONTAINED the healing. Turned out that the paralysed Man (or Everyman?) picked up his mattress and walked.
Yet the debates still flare up. Some folks are still saying that this forgiveness stuff is bordering on blasphemy. Everyday reveals another paralysed Man (or Everyman?) – and the proclamation of the Healer is still a proclamation of forgiveness. It’s beginning to dawn on paralysed humankind that we can’t “get up and walk” whilst we remain convinced that white people, or coloured people, or doubting people, or gay people, or straight people, or male people, or female people, or different people or (dang it) just plain other people are beyond the pale. It’s beginning to dawn (pretty reluctantly, still) that, where the balm of forgiveness (the wholesome medicine of the Gospel) is applied, EVERYONE can “pick up their mattress” and “walk”.
Shouldn’t we all strip off the protective cover? Shouldn’t we all “go down through the roof”, recognising that we ourselves are paralysed and restricted? Shouldn’t we pull out the plugs from our inner ears so that we can hear the ‘still small voice of calm’ within? “My friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Ha ha! That’s why I’ve been making thanksgiving this morning. That’s why I’ve been making Eucharist. For “they shall come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament will be ended.” (Isaiah 35.10). “They”, someday, shall say “I went down through the roof!”
May it be that, after supper, we can say: “We have seen strange things today”.