Chapter 11: Capernaum {Jesus: A Pilgrimage}


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.


Lisa in Capernaum, 2012


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


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Find Lisa’s books on her Amazon author page.


  1. thanks Lisa for your questions. I need to sit with this one for awhile and reread when we are done with the book. I have sat with the ill and dying many times, and the thing I received from that is love. there isn’t a thought in the world of your own needs when you sit with someone whose needs are so much more than yours. I love the photos you included. when Fr. Jim talks of these places I have to go online to find them because this is a place I want to visit so badly. one day! I also wrote down immediately on reading it Fr. Jim’s comment about being paralyzed by sin. Again, this is one I need to sit with and pray over. I think there is another thing to be paralyzed with and that is fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear for your children, no matter their age. This is a chapter I will flag to use in my daily life!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I agree with you that much of what we read in this chapter can help us in challenging areas of our lives. And so glad you enjoyed the photos – I debated sharing them, but I feel so blessed to have visited some of these places. Especially with the current trials in the Holy Land, the people of the region are in our prayers in a special way.

  2. Sandi Belleque on

    After my moms open heart surgery I spent two months driving her to physical therapy. Those mornings were pretty special. We talked about life and death. I walked (exercise I needed!) while she was in her appt. We ran errands. You are right Jeanette, it’s not about you in those situations and that feels so good.

  3. This is one of my favorite chapters in Father Jim’s book. When I was praying with the story after reading the chapter I had this clear image of what could have been another part of the story. The healed man went off to rejoice and the crowd dispersed in amazement. Jesus was left alone in the house with the man’s friends. I can see Jesus smiling a bit and saying to the friends – “I’ll help you fix the roof.” I have thought about this many times in the past weeks how my relationship with Jesus has had the times of drama and excitement. But more often He’s just there saying to me that we better get busy and deal with the ordinary problems of life.

    • Hazel — I love your thought about Jesus smiling and saying, I’ll help you fix the roof. I see them exhausted by their endeavor to get their friend to Jesus and now the excitement and thrill is over and they have to clean up the mess they made. Jesus–in his Martha mode maybe–sees what needs to be done, as a carpenter he knows how to do it, and says I’ll help.

  4. John R. Graham on

    I pondered this question myself. Never had I been able to find an answer to the question. Myself, while I had been the owner of the home; I would have been angry. Yes it is a miracle, but I am living with a hole in my roof! By the way, who is paying for this and the rope? We have all had the experience of setting up an affair, then having the big gathering, and then almost everybody disappears…leaving you and a few others to finish up. I like that Jesus may have have offered his “healing hands to restore the homeowners roof” My wife considers my interest in this as an obsession. Me, I want an definitive answer is all. The rain may not be frequent but it will find its way in!

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