They came bringing to Jesus a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
There are two ways for human beings to learn: through logic (the best way) or through punishment. Animals only learn the hard way. Some people, no matter how hard you try, just have to learn the hard way. The Jews often learned the hard way. In today’s first reading, we find something not at all surprising: a rebellion against the Lord. “All the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel and Ramah and said to him, ‘Appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.’” (Sam 8:4-7)
History not only repeats itself through nations, but with individuals as well.
The children of Israel were acting like babies! “We want a king! We want to be like everybody else! We have a right to be like all the other kingdoms? Give us a king because everybody else has one and we want to be like everyone else!” Sound familiar?
“I want an ipod, an iphone and an ipad just like everybody else. Everybody has an iphone, an ipod, an ipad!!! Why can’t I be like everyone else???” Or, “Everybody is going to the party! Why can’t I go? Why can’t I be like everyone else?”
I find it shocking what God tells Samuel. He says, “Give them whatever they want.” Why in the world would God say that? This is like a teenager’s dream come true; to have a parent say to them, “Do whatever you want.” I really think our teenagers envy parents of other children that give them whatever they want. “Mom, can I go to a party tonight where there are no chaperones?” “Sure honey, do whatever you want!” “Thanks mom, you’re the best!” And now God, our Father, is saying this to them!
Sometimes we have to learn a lesson the hard way. The reason why Israel did not have a King is because God was their King. The chosen people were not rebelling against Samuel. They were rebelling against God. And God, like it or not, allows us to walk away from the room, from a life of grace; from home.
Today, I told the children at Mass. Listen to the people that love you the most. God is one of them! He is actually at the top of the list.
When I was a teenager, I was so envious of one student. His name was Bob. I always thought he had the best parents in the world; he always got what he wanted! He got to go out with girls when he was in middle school; got to go to parties on weekdays; got to watch R-rated movies when he was underage; got to do so many things that I never had a chance to do. On his eighteenth birthday, his parents got him a motorcycle. Two months later, he was dead. I don’t blame him so much for it but rather his parents who seemed to have been blind to the fact that Bob was immature, irresponsible and easily influenced by others.
The paralytic man in today’s Gospel is one tough guy. He could give a damn what the crowd thought; he could care less what the four men carrying him thought. He didn’t seem to mind breaking through the roof of his neighbor’s home, and the Lord didn’t seem to mind him either. It appears as though the Lord respects not only the humble, but the individuals who stand up for something, even when they can’t stand up at all!
We all have this great desire to be just like everyone else. How boring! How modern! Let us pray for our parents and children to go against the current; to rise above the crowd; to trust in those who love them the most; to love their individuality, and to love God above everything else.