Luke 5:17-26 Struck With Awe
Some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in [the Lord’s] presence. But not finding a way…they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” …The people were struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”
It wasn’t exactly what the paralyzed man had expected. He would have preferred that the Lord had said: “Rise! Pick up your stretcher, and go home.” Now we all know that He eventually did, but it didn’t immediately. He had to first “shock and awe” some very important personalities.
God’s ways are not always our ways, but they always the best ways.
While I was in Rome studying to be a priest, I would often spend most of my time studying and working in one of our schools. I worked a lot with kids and their parents. I felt very comfortable doing that. But one day, during the Christmas season, my superior asked me to accompany a very wealthy benefactor around Rome; that is, to show him the sights. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to take him. He had been everywhere. He had seen just about everything. At a certain moment, I felt like he was entertaining (or babysitting) me! After all, this fine gentleman was staying at one of the fanciest hotels in Rome. He was eating at the best restaurants, restaurants I had only read about in books! He had seen it all and I enjoyed every single minute of it!
But one day, while we were driving through Rome, we passed by the Scala Santa (The Holy Stairs). I asked him if he had been there before. To my amazement he hadn’t. So, he immediately asked the chauffer to pull over and let us out.
If you don’t know, the Scala Santa are the actual steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. They are, without doubt, the very steps which Jesus took during his Passion.
As we began walking towards the church, I freaked out. I had just remembered that people who visit this holy site do not climb the stairs with their feet. They climbed it on their knees! I looked at my fancy guest. He was wearing a very expensive suit. I couldn’t believe I had not thought about this before! I began regretting that I had opened up my mouth!
When we entered the church, we saw hundreds of people slowly but surely climbing the stairs on their knees. He looked at me a bit surprised. I smiled at him. I told him that we could come back another day. He asked me why they were doing this. I said to him, “To make reparation for their sins; to share a little bit in our Lord’s passion and pain as he stumbled and fell to the floor.” To my surprise, he immediately fell to his knees and began to climb the stairs. I followed him. It wasn’t how I had remembered it to be. It was much more painful and much slower than what I had remembered. I was worried about my guest. I was wondering what he would think of me and what he would say to my superior.
It took us about thirty minutes to get to the top. We took a different set of stairs to exit the Church. As we drove off he said to me, “Can we go back there tomorrow?” “Yes! Of course,” I said. We went back, EVERY SINGLE DAY until he left.
This good man had been everywhere and had seen just about everything in Rome, but he had not been to the one place he needed to be.
He shared with me his money, his tastes and his comforts. All I could share with him was The Faith.
He was struck with awe.