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You Can’t Carry Everything

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (Isaiah 35:4f) Our God will come to save us!
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Our God will come to save us!
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Our God will come to save us!
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Our God will come to save us!

Gospel: Luke 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”

NAB

dec5

I’ve always been a do-it-myself kind of girl. I used to think that’s because I was fiercely independent and capable, now I know it’s because asking for help made me feel vulnerable and needy. And so I insisted on doing all the things all by myself, until one morning I tripped and fell—rather painfully—going up a flight of stairs.

Arms loaded with numerous bags, books, and electronic devices all precariously balanced, I couldn’t catch myself and slammed into the jagged wooden steps. The message was about as hard to ignore as my skinned knees and the throbbing in my shoulder: You can’t carry everything.

I had a lot to learn from the man today in Saint Luke’s Gospel. He allowed himself to be carried by his friends into the presence of Jesus for the purpose of being helped. That’s asking for help twice.

Too often, when I meditate on this miracle, I identify with the man’s friends. I am comfortable in the role of helper—even fed by it. But the joy of giving to our friends, families, and work can only sustain us for so long. And pretty soon we’re running on fumes.

It’s in this place of need that I sense an invitation: to stop striving, stop pretending we’ve got it all under control, and ask for help. Because, sister, you can’t carry everything. Sometimes you need to be carried.

As I sat in Adoration with this Scripture, for the first time I saw myself as the paralyzed man. I felt both anxious and thrilled. There was some embarrassment there, too. Am I too heavy? Too much? Can Jesus heal me? Will He? But using my imagination, I listened in on the expectant, jubilant conversations of my friends. I felt myself being supported by their strong hands and I looked into the compassionate eyes of Jesus as I lay helpless before Him. All of the fear and questioning subsided. I was loved.

As it turns out, being helped by those we love doesn’t mean that we are weak, it means that we are loved.

Do you have a heart-sister with whom you can share your burdens? Thank God for her and simply soak up the memory of being loved by God through a friend.

Beth Davis is a lover of Jesus, an aunt to five beautiful humans, and a full time youth minister in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is passionate about winning the hearts of young people for Jesus through discipleship. You can find out more about her here.

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