Getting more Mileage

Fr. Terry Sawchuk



Some thoughts on Life, Lent, and Mark 2:1-12


This Lent you may wish to adopt a different way of praying with scripture, particularly the Gospels. An especially  powerful way involves reading a passage from the Gospel while imagining ourselves to be in the story as it unfolds.

Take the passage on the healing of the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12) as an example.   Picture in your mind’s eye being among the group of people who were bringing the paralyzed man to the house where Jesus was. After walking for hours along a rugged and dusty road, the house where Jesus is is finally in sight. The excitement builds. The weight of carrying our paralyzed friend suddenly becomes a little less taxing.

As we get closer to the house, however, we are overwhelmed with a feeling of discouragement when we see that the door to the house is completely blocked by other people. How will we get in? How will our paralyzed friend get into the presence of Jesus? Now we are faced with the choice: turn back and return home with the paralyzed friend, or find a way to overcome the obstacle.


Let’s stop for a while at that door. When we stop, many of us will realize that we’ve been there at that door before.   Standing outside this blocked door can represent all those times we had planned to do something good but then met resistance.


Here is a spiritual insight from the Gospel for us: So often when we resolve to do something good, (when we wish to address an area of “paralysis” in our life), we meet resistance.  Faced with this resistance, we can either leave or think of another solution. The resistance can be external, coming from the outside, perhaps from other people or the temptation of the devil. Most often, though, it comes from inside our own heart.


Let me illustrate this further with a personal story. In the upper corner of most vehicle windshields there’s a little sticker indicates when a vehicle is due for its next oil change.   It usually says something like, “Next service due on July 1st or 200,000 kilometers, whichever comes first.”


About a year ago, my car was due for another oil change.  Things happened, though, and time passed, and I thought a few more kilometres shouldn’t hurt. Everything seemed to go fine, but I still planned to bring the car in. More time passed, and I was soon making a road-trip to Southern Ontario, which added to the car a few thousand more kilometres. Now I was way overdue! At this point, I hesitated to bring the car in because I was afraid of what the people at the shop might think of me! I drove on until the oil light came on. I started driving by used-car lots to check out my options!


The good news is that the car finally made it to a garage, and all is now well.  The interior resistance was finally overcome. I make this public confession so that others might learn from my mistake! The moral of the story is that living our lives like I drove my car is not a good idea! Good resolutions will not keep a car running! Don’t wait for the warning lights of life to kick in before doing what has to be done. Making it to the doorway of resolution is one thing. Crossing the threshold is another.  


Some of us, for example, have been meaning for some time to learn more about our faith. But as we are about to make it happen, notice how the resistance begins! Some of us may have it on our hearts to return to the sacrament of reconciliation, but then the hesitation arises: “What will the priest think of me? I’m not all that bad anyway. Maybe next week…”


The holy season of Lent challenges us to cross the threshold. Only by “entering the house” will the paralyzed areas of our life be blessed with new life and healing.


Get more mileage out of your spiritual life this Lent. Respond to the call of the Gospel. Overcome the resistance, and cross the threshold of resolution into the realm of reality!