One of the things I like to do with very familiar passages like this one is dive into the passage’s specifics. It can be easy to gloss over words like “nard” and “denarii”, but by looking more closely at them, we can find surprising meanings and connections.
Today's reflection is for anyone who's ever felt lukewarm about their faith. It must have taken a certain amount of desperation for this royal official to seek Jesus out. A few biblical commentaries say that he was probably a pagan, so right away, he’s not initially going to be open to the idea of a Jewish Messiah. We don’t know how long his son was ill, but we do know that it had become so serious that he begged Jesus to come and heal him.
Today’s gospel reading centers on the idea of authority. The Pharisees want to know where Jesus is doing all the things he’s doing (healing the sick, absolving people’s sins, etc.) While Jesus could have easily answered them by saying, “Well, I’m God, so…” He doesn’t.
Today’s gospel reminds me of the Flannery O’Connor quote: “I think most people come to the Church by means the Church does not allow.” The “allowed” way of getting into someone’s house is the front door, not by tearing open the roof! But these friends were so desperate to have their friend healed that they did something radical, something “not allowed”--they tore open the roof and lowered their friend down into the midst of the crowd, so he could see Jesus and be healed.