I think of two things when I read this morning’s gospel (Mk 2: 1-12) about the cure of the paralytic who was let down through the roof of the house that Jesus called home in order to be healed. My first thought is a mix of admiration and consternation that their faith in the ability of Jesus to heal the man was so strong that they “opened the roof” and “broke through” to let the man down because the crowd was too large to get in the door for their approach to Jesus. How great must their faith have been to go to such lengths to see Jesus. However, unless I am wrong that damage must have been done to the roof, I’m a little put off that that they would care so little for their method of approach!
Upon further reflection, I’m led to the second part of the reading where Jesus tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven and the scribes in the crowd accuse him of blasphemy. The answer Jesus gives (“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk”?) says clearly that Jesus sees no separation of body and spirit in our makeup. We’ve come a long way in science since the time of Jesus and in the last century much has been recognized that we had lost sight of in our quest to understand the human body. Now we know that we are not disparate parts but rather “all of a piece” and that some of what causes us to be ill is best treated in ways other than strictly medicinal. To be clear, I am astounded daily by the miracles of modern medicine. I am also, however, convinced – as studies have shown – that my daily meditation time and less frequent but important physical exercise are of great benefit and healing to the whole of me: body, mind and spirit. We ask people to pray for us when we are facing surgery. There is evidence that adding this component to the experience is of great value both for patient and doctor in the actual event as well as in the healing process that follows.
We, like those enthusiastic believers who went to such great lengths to effect a healing for the paralytic, need to recognize all the God-given resources we have in ourselves and in our world today toward healing, even if it means stretching ourselves and our faith beyond what we’ve known, trusting that God is with us through everything.