When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”—he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (Mark 2:1-12)
The headline of this reflection is meant to be provocative.
It is meant to provoke an inner reflection on the actions and people in our lives – particularly those actions and people whom we say we have forgiven but whose actions remain in our minds and hearts.
The very summit of God’s plan was the reconciliation of the human race with God. Today’s scripture reminds us of how important it was to Jesus. When a paralyzed man was dangerously lifted onto a roof and lowered into his midst in a home where Jesus was teaching, the first thing Jesus did was to heal his sins. The physical healing, which was important but less important than that, came later.
Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner than for 99 who didn’t need to repent, as Jesus would say later. The second lesson of this scripture is the importance of bringing friends to Jesus so that he can give them his merciful love like the friends of the paralytic brought him to Jesus.
Over and over throughout his life and right up to the cross. Jesus forgave.
Yet, human nature bridles against true forgiveness. Sure, we say the words of forgiveness but don’t forget the actions or words that hurt us. We use a myriad of excuses to justify it to ourselves. Phrases such as “ I forgive but never forget.” Or “ I did forgive but I will forever be on guard so it doesn’t happen again.”
The problem is that as long as the hurt lies in our heart, the forgiveness is not total.
“What?” you say. “Of course, I forgave. Remembering the incident just keeps me on guard.” So, let me explain.
The goal of the Christian life is to be like Christ. Not in the heavenly sense but in the human sense of emulating Chris’s life in our deeds and words. Thus, as Christ forgave, so should we.
When we don’t or when we can’t, then we are disobedient. Most of the time, we don’t do it willingly. What happens is that when we allow actions or incidents of the past to color our life, we are allowing evil to enter our lives. Painful memories bring on darkness and darkness is not the dwelling place of God. The end product of darkness is not being able to see the light. We need to avoid those actions which distance ourselves from the light of Christ.
We use prayer to help keep us in the light. We focus on praying for the gift of forgiveness. We pray for keeping our minds and spirits focused on the good. When we forgive, we are emulating Christ. When Christ removed the weakness of the flesh which crippled and maimed, he healed the whole person.
It is a great thing to forgive people’s sins – who can forgive sins, but God alone? For God also forgives through those to whom he has given the power of forgiveness.
It is in emulating Christ that we are in the very presence of Christ. It is in that presence that we find healing and we can accept reconciliation. In deed, we can discover life itself.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.”
Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and spirit. Is there any area in your life that cripples you from walking in the freedom of Christ’s transforming love and forgiveness?