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Would you ever break into to a house?

January 17, 2015

Mark 2: 1-12                          Friday 16th January 2015

On the first and third Fridays of the month we go out and see the sick and housebound. We take them Holy Communion. It’s a privilege. You can sometimes think, ‘Oh no! It’s come round quickly, I’ve got to go out again.’ But as soon as you come into contact with people who are vulnerable or weak, tremendously prayerful people who yearn to receive Holy Communion, welcome you into their homes, more importantly, welcome The Lord into their homes – that’s tremendously uplifting. You see the gospel lived out.

This morning I visited a lady who is in her nineties, and she thinks she is coming to the end of her life. She’s quite content to talk about dying because she has great faith. Her children were there, she has her family around her with great faith. This is a good way to come to the end of one’s life.

It’s a reflection of our own society that nowadays most people would understand the word ‘paralytic’ to mean being absolutely drunk on Broad Street after a Friday or Saturday night out. Of course that means you’re completely vulnerable, because of your drunkenness you need other people to virtually carry you about.

Another person I visited today was Peter. You see him occasionally sitting at the side in church – he’s the guy in the wheelchair. He is a paralytic, and he heard today’s gospel with great joy. He does have a great joy in his life. Some people would say he has a very low quality of life. Oh no he does not! He has to speak through a machine, but he speaks. A tremendous sense of humour, a tremendous sense of life; and he certainly looks forward to receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. So that’s inspiring. Peter’s prayers, I’m sure, are very powerful. His reaction to today’s gospel was one of joy, in the sense that he would be delighted to be lowered down through a hole in someone’s roof just for the fun of it!

To a certain extent today’s gospel story has a comic element. There they are in Capernaum. It’s where Peter lived with his brother Andrew and his mother-in-law (we heard about her earlier this week when Peter brought Jesus to her to cure a fever). The roof would have been covered with palm branches with dirt and stuff on top of them. I wouldn’t be too amused if I heard noises on my roof and some men were stripping the tiles off and lowering someone into the house. In the original Greek it says they ‘dug’ a way through – the translation we had today says they ‘made an opening’. The dust and noise and mess must have been strange. This mess and disruption isn’t mentioned in the gospel…. because it’s not important.

There’s maybe a message for us here. Sometimes, in unique circumstances, we have to break the rules. We have to do things in a completely different, unconventional way.

Our daughter’s in New Zealand at the moment, and she went off to some beautiful, remote place where there are active volcanoes overlooking the small settlement. Really isolated – one road in, one road out. And in the room where she was staying there was a notice telling her what to do in the event of an eruption. Basically the advice was ‘if it goes off, drive away from the volcano’. That’s all very well, but she doesn’t have a car with her. What’s she going to do once the volcano begins to belch smoke? I told her, ‘In an emergency like that, you break the rules. Break into someone’s house, get the car and drive away.’ Who would blame her? Would she go to jail? No. In an emergency all the rules we’ve learnt through our lives might get broken. In a life-threatening emergency the priority is to escape!

So sometimes we may come across a situation where we need to break the rules. Those four men in today’s gospel wanted to take a very sick friend to Jesus to be healed. They had tremendous faith in Jesus’ power to heal him, and they made it their business to take him. Incidentally, there’s nothing said in the gospel of the man’s faith – presumably he had it, or he came to it through this event. When they were presented with a one-off, once in a lifetime opportunity, and they couldn’t get to achieve it, these for men used their initiative and broke the rules: up on the roof, they broke through, and they got what they wanted. They had tremendous faith.

It’s also interesting to notice the way Jesus performs this particular healing miracle. Normally, when he heals someone, He bring them in front of Him, He speaks to them, asks them if they have faith in him, tells them that their sins are forgiven and that they should not sin again. And then they are healed. The miracle depends on the individual’s faith. Actually, in this gospel story, the miracle comes about through the faith of the four people who brought him to Jesus. He comes to salvation, his life is saved, his life is completely changed, a miracle happens because of those faithful people around him.

A message for us. You may be, for example, in a family where there are people who have drifted away from the Church, you worry about them; what’s going to happen to them? Of course we pray for them. But there may be a situation arises where you can suddenly do something that brings them back, if you like, to their senses. Through our actions as a community, we can bring them back to God. That’s what the New Covenant is about: bringing people back to God. That’s what the Church is about.

So, sometimes, in a very difficult situation, don’t forget your faith. You can raise it, and say to people, ‘We are going to pray together now.’ And they may join in with you. You may be very surprised by the result.

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2 Comments
  1. neodecaussade permalink

    Dear Deacon Philip,
    Reading the stories of Christian Service are very uplifting. I will pray for you. God bless,

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