Today’s contemplation is on suffering. Mark Yaconelli, in his book Wonder, Fear, and Longing, brings forth the parable of healing a guy who gets carried around on his mat by friends who are determined to get him to Jesus for healing. This Mark 2 pericope focuses on a guy I call Matt. I envy Matt. He’s got (at least) four friends who stop at nothing, not even crowded doorways, to see that Matt goes before a man whom they know has been healing folks all day long in this one house.
The narrative doesn’t tell us what happened to Matt, but he is paralyzed. We don’t get any insight to his friends’ knowledge of what happened to Matt to make him paralyzed. Maybe he was injured; or maybe he’s been paralytic since birth. We are not given any of Matt’s back story to know his hurts, frustrations, issues, or challenges beyond being paralyzed. But, if we were to put ourselves in Matt’s place, we would know our own hurts, frustrations, issues and challenges.
When Jesus sees Matt being lowered down from the roof inside the house, he addresses the paralytic and his friends. Mark tells us, when Jesus saw their faith (meaning Matt’s friends too), he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Whhuttt??!! He doesn’t say ‘be healed’; he says, the things that have deterred you from a relationship with God have been cancelled and forgiven. I guess Jesus was saying, yeah you’re physically struck but what’s more important is how you relate to your Creator.
The Pharisees asked about this too because they didn’t think anyone but God was able and allowed to forgive sins. Jesus asked them “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?” In other words, Is it easier for us to be confident is God’s willingness to forgive us when we do things that jeopardize our relationship with God, than it is to restore movement to a paralytic?
Yaconelli asks us to spend some time thinking about our own suffering which we usually keep hidden – shame, fear, frustration… and, he asks this, which I found insightful: How does this hurt live inside your body?
Six years ago I had breast cancer and I spent time in my cancer-fighting days reviewing my life events considering what I might have done to enable cancer to present itself in my body. I thought about how stress impacts your well being – heart disease, neck and back pain, etc. and how not living according to your heart’s dream compromises your integrity, These questions still come up when I’m on my yoga mat. So, this Marcan story and Yaconelli, in this contemplation, has me connecting the way I take care of my body (or don’t) with my relationship with God.