Welcome to our virtual book club! We're reading Fr. James Martin’s bestseller, Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Each week we will tackle a chapter and look forward to a lively discussion together.

Jesus book conversation

While reading Chapter 11 of Fr. Jim's book, I couldn't help but remember my own visit to Capernaum in January 2012. I recall vividly praying in the beautiful Church that rests atop St. Peter's house and walking the streets of the village Jesus called home.

20120128-1830291 Lisa in Capernaum, 2012

capernaum The Church of St. Peter's House in Capernaum

My "Wow!" feeling from two years ago was renewed by the reading of this chapter. But I'll admit that when I walked the "streets" of Capernaum back then, I didn't have the story conveyed in these pages on my mind. That day, I was more interested in the architecture of the Church built atop Peter's house and the ruins of a nearby synagogue. The story of the paralytic didn't connect for me that day -- perhaps because I hadn't studied the passage deeply enough. The opening pages of Chapter 11 acquaint us with the backdrop for a story that has always puzzled me.

Now, with a better idea of Capernaum architecture and my own personal experience of the city but especially with Fr. Jim's teachings, I am now able to better picture and pray with the opening verses of Mark's second chapter -- to put myself more fully into that place. I can feel myself in the crowd, excited to be close to the amazing teacher who has already performed such incredible miracles. I can sense the press of the bodies rushing to be near him, perhaps to experience a miracle for myself. I can imagine my surprise, perhaps as someone in the small house near Jesus, when a hole in the roof is opened and a very hurt man is lowered down. I can ponder the rejoicing in my heart as I see an invalid be forgiven and ultimately physically healed.

The closing lines of Chapter 11 also draw me into deeper prayer conversation with Mark 2. While I have never been physically paralyzed, I've had plenty of occasion to be mentally and emotionally paralyzed by my own sinful condition. It's now easy to place myself into the role of the paralyzed man, surrounded by loved ones who deeply desire my healing. Fr. Jim reminds us of an important teaching of this passage:

"...sin can paralyze us, preventing any forward motion. We are stuck until we are able to be forgiven, until we meet God in some way, or until our friends take pity on us, unroof our world, and let the light in."

Forgiveness and healing are mine from the God who loves me so greatly. My personal "paralysis" can be healed by proximity to Jesus -- in adoration, in the sacrament of reconciliation and in the Eucharist. And I can lead others to certain healing by being a gentle and yet insistent companion in their needed encounter with Jesus Christ.

Together this week, let's unroof, draw closer to Jesus, and be healed.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Have you ever been moved or touched by the efforts of your friends or loved ones to bring you into closer communion with Jesus Christ?
  2. Have you had the experience of journeying with a loved one who is sick or injured? What efforts or sacrifices did you make to aid your loved one's wellbeing? What did you learn from this experience?
  3. The community of Capernaum and the paralyzed man's friends were amazed and glorified God for his healing. In what ways have you expressed your joy at God's workings in your life this week?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we'll cover Chapter 12: Parables. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Jesus Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey