We recently had the roof over our kitchen repaired. It wasn’t just the addition of a new layer of shingles. Because it had been leaking, the roofers had to take off what was there down to the wood layer to make sure everything was tight and secure so we would be warm and dry this winter. Having helped with a roof myself once, I know what a labor-intensive job it can be.
Clearly, construction in the time and location of today’s gospel story was different. Mark (2:1-12) talks about the great crowd that had gathered to listen to Jesus at his home in Capernaum such that there was no room for everyone “even around the door.” When four men who arrived carrying a paralytic on a mat couldn’t find any way in, they just “opened up the roof above him and after they had broken through, let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.” I always found that a rather stunning line both because it was an ingenious way to get the attention of Jesus and because of their ability to actually accomplish the feat – to say nothing of the fact that they were defacing someone else’s property. It didn’t seem to faze Jesus, however, so I’m thinking that the roof was easily repaired. It appears that Jesus was impressed by the ingenuity and the faith of the four men and his response speaks to the importance of community as well, I think. Mark says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.'”
Sometimes we need to rely on others when we are unable to manage on our own. Whether it be someone to drive us to Church or to sit with us during a time of suffering, perhaps it is our willingness to surrender our need for control of the situation that will bring us the solution or the peace that we need. The by-product is giving someone else the opportunity to be God’s grace for us in that moment in whatever creative way s/he is able and willing to be. But I’d suggest trying to find a solution that keeps us on the ground.