"They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men." (Mark 2:3)
I have been blessed throughout my life with incredible friends. These are the people that love me, keep me grounded, point out my flaws, lift me up, and go through great lengths to demonstrate the depths of their love. I could begin talking about my best friend who has walked with me for all but the first six months of my life, but I would need an entire chapter of a book to attempt to describe our friendship. I have one group of friends that I get together with once or twice a year (not nearly enough) and whenever we gather, we lift up our wine glasses and say the following toast: “I have learned that being with those you love is enough.” Isn’t that the truth? Being with friends, family, or even with God himself should be enough for us. Friendship is a gift that comes from on high to bring us closer to the Source of all love. I have no doubt that these friends would go through great lengths to do anything for me as I would for them. Providence brought us together, and time and distance has not been able to keep us apart.
Among the many subplots going on in today’s gospel reading, friendship is one that is key to what transpires. Four men go through great lengths to place a paralytic man at the feet of the Lord. They would not be deterred by a crowded house or a blocked entrance. Rather they enter through the roof to make sure that their friend would be healed. This should prompt us to ask the question: do I have friends like that? Do I have friends that would overcome any obstacle to make sure that I am well? Or better yet: do I have friends that would do anything to bring my closer to Jesus and/or do I bring my friends closer to the Lord? All very good questions and worth examining because we tend to categorize our friends. We have our work friends, our school friends, our neighborhood friends, our social/party friends, and of course, our church friends. Do we only speak about Christ with our “church friends?” Why are we ashamed to bring others to the feet of the Lord? So many around us are paralyzed by sin, and the Lord is counting on us to bring them to him. Friendship in Christ is what makes those relationships last because they are firmly rooted in Love Himself. Friends do come and go, but I have found that those that have been with me the longest are the ones that I met in church where Christ brought us together and continues to strengthen out love.
We begin the season of Lent on Wednesday, and we will no doubt begin our Lenten practices. Allow me to add one more: do I bring my friends closer to Christ? This is key because as members of his Body we called to strengthen our Church by bringing others to him as the four men did in the gospel. As the first reading said, God wants to make something new, and he wants to start with each of us as we enter this blessed season that calls us to conversion. Shouldn’t we invite others to come before the Lord to be freed from whatever sin paralyzes them? So this Lent, bring a friend to Church, invite them to pray with you, and let us strengthen the bonds of friendship that unite us with those we love. This Lent, may we be the good friends that bring paralyzed souls to the feet of the Master.