“To him that will, ways are not wanting” ~ George Herbert
This phrase first appeared in George Herbert’s Jacula Prudentusm, a book written in the year 1640. Known also as “Darts of the Wise,” this seminal publication contained over 1,200 Proverbs, many of which remain firmly ensconced in our vernacular today. The modern, more recognizable and less cumbersome version of this idiom ~ Where there’s a will, there’s a way ~ first appeared in print in the year 1822 in a publication known as New Monthly Magazine. The four men in today’s Gospel (Mark 2:1-12) who lowered their paralytic friend through the roof so that he could be healed by Jesus prove that this idiom was being put into practice long before that.
For these men, their faith was their lifeblood, their priority if you will. During my 20s and 30s, I was passionate about, among other things, the New York Rangers and the Allman Brothers Band. Having attended far too many of their hockey games and concerts to count, I cannot recall a single instance where I missed the opening face-off or the 1st song of what would be a 3 hour jam-infused extravaganza, this despite the fact it would occasionally require tiptoeing out of work a little bit early to catch the uptown 1 Train or, heaven forbid, cutting happy hour short. During that same time period however there were a handful of times wherein I would arrive at 9:00AM Mass on Sunday Morning at 9:04am. Or 9:08am . . . or 9:18am. In so many ways, our priorities define us.
In the case of the four friends of the paralytic, Jesus took note of this for we are told that “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him “Child, your sins are forgiven.” It’s interesting to note that Jesus did not heal the paralytic. Not right away anyway. No, instead he decided, to use his own words from another story, ”the better part.” He first offered the paralyzed man spiritual healing in the form of forgiveness, a gift far more valuable and eternal than any temporary healing bestowed upon the physical body.
It was here within the confines of this critical passage that Jesus establishes his authority as the Son of God to forgive sins. Out of his infinite mercy and love he would go on to heal the paralytic of his physical calamities as well, but the focus today is on the cleansing and healing power of forgiveness. This gift is available to all of us, virtually on demand, via the Sacrament of Reconciliation. it is in this intimate encounter with Jesus that we are reminded of his divine mercy, a proverbial ocean of compassion and forgiveness.
God always seeks us first, desiring that we might enter into his rest. That journey begins on earth and crescendos in Heaven. God heals the body, he heals the soul. How do we respond to this charity? By being people of prayer, people who possess the faith of the men in today’s Gospel. During the celebration of the Mass, we respond to that love.
What are we doing to love those around us? Again, do our acts of charity match these men in the Gospel, who went well out of their way? The scene in today’s Gospel was no doubt chaotic. There were throngs of people, it was a loud and bustling environment. These friends of the paralytic were most likely chastised and shouted down by the other onlookers for attempting such a risky maneuver. But they were of a singular purpose, for they knew what was at stake, the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow: Jesus’ healing grace. May we all live out our spiritual lives with this keen sense of urgency.
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid the occasion of sin. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life.” ~ Amen