these four friends could have called it quits after they saw the crowd; they might have thought it too difficult for them to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus; they may have gotten discouraged more easily and returned back home. But, says Mark, they did not. They persisted; they were not giving up; so they worked hard to raise the paralytic onto the roof, then opened the roof and cleared the way—carefully lowering their friend down in front of Jesus.

What about us? How persistent are we with our friends? Do we have a friend like Uncle Hans or the paralytic man? How far are we willing to go in loving God by loving a neighbour in need? A love that fails to be open to opportunities for healing is no love at all. Without the prayers, the faith, the persistence of loyal friends, neither Uncle Hans nor the paralytic would have been healed. Never underestimate what God is able to do with your help—we are Christ’s hands, feet, voice and presence. Miracles can and do happen when we love our neighbour like Uncle Hans’s friends; and like the four friends of the paralytic man in our gospel. Such persistence is a good example of faith and love for us all.

But there’s even more to the story isn’t there? Mark goes on to say that it wasn’t only the persistence, the faith, the love of the paralytic’s friends, which healed him—rather, it was the very power and presence of Jesus himself to forgive sins, which results in healing. This story—contrary to the healing of the blind man in John’s Gospel, where he never sinned nor did his parents sin—makes the traditional Jewish connection between illness and disease and sin. In Mark’s story, there is here an association of forgiveness of sin by Jesus and the healing of the paralytic man.

The association between sin, sickness and disease is also a real one in today’s world. Many people live under the burden of their sin, guilt and shame. Contrary to what Jesus asks his audience: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? NEITHER OF THESE IS EASY. One of the most difficult things for medical doctors to heal is illnesses and diseases associated with a person’s failure to forgive. Forgiveness is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR SOME PEOPLE. For some people, THE MOST DIFFICULT THING TO DO IS FORGIVING YOURSELF. When they keep their bitterness, their resentments, their anger inside for years on end; this takes it’s toll, and often results in cardiovascular illness or disease, arthritis or rheumatism, chronic depression and even mental illness to name only a few.

Many years ago, I knew a woman who had been abused terribly. She had carried that inside of her for decades. Trying to cope with it by escaping from it, she had become addicted to alcohol and drugs. Eventually she developed asthma, anorexia, and emphysema. All of these things were connected with her inability to let go of her guilt and shame—real and imagined—failing to forgive herself. So,