Today's Lectionary Text
Mark 2:1-12When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
This is a beloved Gospel story. Four friends do whatever it takes to get their paralyzed friend past the crowd gathered around Jesus, in the hopes of a miracle. It’s a happy story all around: the paralyzed man can walk again, the friends’ faith is commended, and Jesus gets an opportunity to display his authority.
But what about the owner of the house whose roof was torn up? At first, Jesus’ presence is a high honor; it’s your house he has chosen to teach and heal in! But pride gives way to dread when you hear footsteps above you. Your heart sinks when you begin to see daylight peek through the hole beginning to emerge. Best case scenario: you were already contemplating a skylight. But you probably weren’t.
Sometimes, loving your neighbors means property damage. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves; wouldn’t we want heaven and earth moved so we could be healed? Later, Jesus says, “None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions” (Luke 14:33). Roofs included.
This scene in Mark 2 reminds us what it means to love our neighbors. It means letting a hole be cut in your roof for the sake of a miracle. It means loving your neighbor more than your stuff. Simply put, being a neighbor means putting people over property.
Whether it’s small donations to community ministries, lending something you might not get back, or opening up your guest room for a neighbor in need, there are ways we all can put people over property. And when being a neighbor does indeed mean property damage, from a baseball through a window or a hole in a roof, it’s a chance to marvel at what Christ can do when we put people first.
-- Pastor Michael Carpenter
Wahoo First UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Lord, help me to put people over property. Help me to hold more loosely the stuff of this world, and help me to love better the neighbors you have placed around me. Amen.
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