Today’s Gospel reading from Mark is about a man who was paralyzed. His friends brought him to Jesus, after digging through the roof and lowering him down on his mat. When Jesus saw the faith of the man’s friends, he told the man that his sins were forgiven. The scribes present began to question in their hearts what Christ was doing. Jesus, knowing this, asked them, Why do you raise such questions in your heart? Then he said to the one who was paralyzed to stand up, pick up his mat and go home, which he does to the amazement of everyone.
This Gospel story is interesting and pertinent to me for several reasons. First and foremost, as I ended chemo this week, I am aware of how many friends have carried me onto roofs, dug down deeply, placed me before Jesus, and left me in his good hands. Their faith has been inspiring to me and I am so grateful for all their efforts to bring me back to health. I could not have done this journey without them. Some days I simply could not have moved from my mat. They–both friends and strangers–prayed me through the roughest spots. Such marvelous earth angels!
Secondly, I know that some people questioned in their hearts my decision to poison my body with chemo. I did not make the decision lightly or easily. I signed all the papers but took a weekend to prayerfully consider my options. I do not feel as if I need to defend my final decision to anyone. I struggled to make it and part way through wondered if it was worth it. On this side of it, I have no regrets. These past six months–this past year–has been challenging. Recovering from surgery, I could see that I was getting better daily. Chemo left me sicker each month. Now I can focus on healing my body once again. I am ready to stand up, pick up my mat and carry on with my life.
Jesus asks the scribes why they raise such questions. It is a valid point. I have had people fall into the blaming the victim stance with me about why I had cancer. What sins had I committed to cause it? Interestingly enough, I have not really asked why. I have more often asked why not? In this year of mercy, I want to find myself less judgmental and more at peace with others and myself. I want to try and respect others and not make them feel badly about their own decisions regarding their own life. That will be one of the lessons that I take away from this experience. It will not be an easy one but even wanting to be aware of my weaknesses should help me to reflect on when I do not succeed. I am going to be paying special attention during the Examen for the times I do not act with mercy.
As I start down yet a new road on this adventure, I am happily picking up my mat with a grateful heart to those who brought me to Jesus time and again. I hope that I can be more merciful and more self-compassionate as I continue on.
Who raises unhelpful questions about decisions you have made for the good in your life?
Who goes above and beyond to place you in Christ’s good hands?
Great Physician, you see our faith and know our hearts. Sometimes we are far from holy. We can be hurtful and harmful, even if that is not our intention. Show us our sins in this regard so that we can learn to be more merciful and compassionate. Thank you for those who will go the heights and depths to ensure our wellness, who carry us when we cannot take another step, who place us in your loving hands. Bless these earth angels for their generosity. Amen.