“A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” - Mark 2:1-5
The woman in the black bikini looked up from her book and turned to the other mom. For the past few minutes I’d caught snippets of their conversation, male bashing, mostly, as the women complained of how their husbands just didn’t get it — how they loved to play with the kids but wouldn’t lift a tissue to wipe a snotty nose. How their husbands could breakdown and clean a twelve-gauge in the dark but couldn’t replace the bag in the vacuum cleaner if their life depended on it.
“When is it going to be my turn?” black bikini asked. “When is he going to realize that I’m holding this family together while he’s out playing soldier?”
Her husband was fifty, a Marine and shipping out for Iraq. He’d been home less than three months.
“The people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door.”
Marriage is hard. It’s especially hard on the families of first responders. Home comings are great but you can’t have a Welcome Back party without going away tears and too often a broken marriage is the casualty of a life-and-death job.
Soldiers, police, firefighters, paramedics — each day these men and women put their lives on the line in order that we may live. “Greater love has no one than he that lay down one's life for another.”
A car door slammed and black bikini walked toward the parking lot to see her husband off. As she did I thought of the four men who risked ridicule and rebuke to bring their paralyzed friend to the feet of Jesus.
“They made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on."
The easy choice would have been to stay outside, listen to the Rabbi’s teaching and allow their friend to remain imprisoned in the shell of his body but saving a life is never easy work and whenever we carry friend, relative or stranger to the arms of Christ we join the ranks of those First Responders.
To risk your life — to stand in harms way or carry a stranger to safety deserves more than a yellow ribbon sticker on the back of car. It deserves our undying gratitude.