February 17, 2012
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time [February 19, 2012]
I can’t ever remember pretending to be a sports enthusiast. I do like to watch the Fighting Irish, win or lose, and I have attended several basketball games here at Notre Dame with friends; my ears are still ringing from the noise,
I have found it important, however, to be somewhat conversant with the sporting world inasmuch as all my confreres at the dining table are so well informed in all this. So, I should know beforehand what the Big East is or who the Heisman trophy winner was this year if I am going to carry on any intelligent conversation.
On occasion, I also pick up a copy of Sports Illustrated or I will listen to Frank Deford speak of sports on National Public Radio.
Thumbing through the football stories this fall and the splendid photos that accompanied them, I was struck by the size of the professional players, particularly the size of the shoulders and necks. They are behemoths, these guys: They bump heads, butts and hips with each other when someone makes a good play. (What all that actually means, I have no idea) So, hardened are these men, that I am not surprised that they seldom get hurt.
But occasionally it does happen as it did during a playoff game several weekends ago. Two men simply crashed into each other head on at full speed. Down they went, but one player did not get up, not for at least 15 minutes. (Lots of advertising time).
Finally the medics were able to stabilize him and place him on a stretcher and hence onto a motorized cart whereby he was taken to a hospital. I never did find out the extent of his injuries. I hope he is okay.
What struck me about the demeanor of these giants, however, is that they all stood close about their fallen comrade, silently watching the procedure before the game was once again called into action. In other words, despite their exterior toughness, these men were sensitive to the occasion and I am sure they themselves would have carried their comrade off the field had the need been clear.
All this came back to mind after I read the interesting and, in some sense, humorous story of the four men who carried a paralyzed companion to the roof of a building where Jesus was preaching. In order to help the man reach the floor below, they tore off the tiles and cement of the roof, dusting up the folks down below listening to Jesus preach.
It does seem humorous in some sense, but it is also a story of passion and compassion: These four friends would stop at nothing to get their companion into a healing position in front of Jesus. Of course, you know the rest of it: Jesus praised the man and his friends for their faith and sent him on his way.
All this tells us about the lengths people will go to support each. Consider these examples: Parents will support their children, even though they sometimes act like idiots. Husbands and wives will support each other through all sorts of difficulties. Business partners do all they can to help someone in the office who has problems. Parents will spend many sleepless nights waiting for a son or daughter to come. They will sit in emergency room waiting area for hours until a son or daughter returns from examinations. We have seen enough of the Iraq war to tell us how closely bonded our soldier are: They will go to any length to help a buddy who’s been wounded, even going so far as to put themselves in mortal harm. We have seen firemen and policemen risking their lives to save someone in a burning house. Indeed, we have seen them carrying people out on stretchers, resembling the gospel story.
All this tells me that this gospel story is an example of simple human compassion, human care of people for one another.
Could all this be called a grace? I’m sure that most of us either have done something similar to the event in the gospel story. Surely, we were not looking for any recompense nor payment. This is the way compassionate, sensitive people care for each other
By the way, you may have noticed the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees when Jesus healed the man. They were more concerned about working on the Sabbath than about the poor guy who was only looking for a little help. You see where the values differed?
With all that, therefore, I think the message in this gospel is all about support for those who need it: Physical, mental, spiritual, you name it. A stretcher may not even be needed because it’s all about attitude: How far are we willing to go in support of our brothers and sisters?
By the way, I’ve often wondered who paid for the repair of the roof?
Posted by Cindy Lentine on February 17, 2012 03:41 PM.