By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
Reflecting on the story of the healing of the paralytic (Mk 2:1-12) brings out many lessons. It tells us about the forgiving power of God, but it also presents us with a model of an authentic act of friendship. Four men brought a paralytic to Jesus for healing. When they could not find a way to get into the room where Jesus was, they did the unbelievable — they broke through the roof and laid their friend in front of Jesus.
The Gospel emphasizes that it was their faith, not the faith of the paralytic, that Jesus saw. “After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’” This was indeed an act of giving demonstrated by these four friends; this is friendship in practice, inestimable and priceless.
This story presents us with an invaluable example of a desperate act by friends seeking to help a friend. In their desperation they went to the unbelievable extent of tearing a hole in the roof of the house! The paralytic may or may not have been a man of faith, but it was the faith of his friends that caught the attention of Jesus. This is very significant. Spiritually, it tells us that through our faith, our efforts and our prayers we can save someone. But in our everyday life, it also demonstrates to us that no single effort to help a fellow in need is a waste.
Our show of friendship should not be concerned about a return favor. Perhaps the paralytic had been a good man or a good friend to his friends; maybe they had enjoyed his favors in the past — this is something we don’t know.
All we know is that their faith, resilience and desire to help a friend in need brought their friend back to good health.
Never underestimate the power of intercession. Interceding for others before God is a Christian responsibility. But even more important, taking extra steps to physically assist one in need is an act of faith. If all friends strive to be at the service of one another, no return favors will be demanded by anyone; rather, rendering help will flow as a natural part of friendship.
True friendship is demonstrated and seen at a point of need. Real friends don’t count the cost; real friends give their all for the sake of the other. A good friendship is priceless. A price tag placed on friendship only leads to exploitation, suppression, suspicion and eventual abandonment.
If there is any price we must pay for friendship, it is the price of self-giving and self-abandonment for the cause of another without counting the cost
These four men broke the barrier that stood between their friend and Jesus. They pushed him toward the goal of healing. That’s what friends are — people who help each other achieve success or arrive at a desired goal. We should not be barriers to our friends’ successes; we should rather be helpers toward achieving them. Let our friendship always lead a friend to reach his goal, not deter him.
Above all, like these four men in the Gospel, let our friendship lead someone to God.
Father Jacob Dankasa is a parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Plano.