6TH DECEMBER 2021
GOD’S POWER TO FORGIVE
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 85:9ab and 10.11-12.13-14; Gospel Lk 5:17-26
Beyond showing his authority over temptation, over the lives of men, over nature, over demons and over sickness, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus demonstrating a new form of authority – his authority to forgive sins. Jesus miraculously restores a paralyzed man to health. The healing episode presents Jesus as God Incarnate, sent to save us, restore us and make us new. So, we have to look beyond the boundaries of our religious experience if we are to appreciate the healing and forgiving operation of our God in newer and newer ways.
Many kinds of sickness were seen by the Jews as punishment for one’s personal sin or the sins of one’s parents. This man’s paralysis was also seen by the people around him as a punishment for some sin in his own life or in the lives of his parents. It was a common belief that no sickness could be cured until sin was forgiven. For that reason, Jesus had first to convince the paralyzed man that his sins had been forgiven.
Once Jesus granted the paralytic the forgiveness of God, the man knew that God was no longer his enemy, and he was ready to receive the cure which followed. It was the manner of the cure which scandalized the Scribes. By forgiving sin, they thought Jesus had blasphemed, insulting God, because forgiving sin is the exclusive prerogative of God. In addition to showing Jesus’ own direct connection to God, this healing demonstrates the fact that we can never be right physically until we are right spiritually, that health in body and peace with God go hand in hand.
We need God’s forgiveness to live wholesome lives. The heart of the Christian Faith is the “forgiveness of sins.” In the Creed we say, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” While we have the power to forgive others, we need to be forgiven ourselves by the One who has the authority to forgive. In Jesus we see this authority, the same authority He gave to his Apostles and so to his Church. 2) Today’s Gospel gives us an invitation to open ourselves to God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to hear from in the priest’s words the voice of Jesus speaking to the paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven.” 3) The Gospel also instructs us to forgive others their sins against us and to ask God’s forgiveness for our daily sins every day of our lives.