Thursday, February 7, 2019
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that He was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and He was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, H said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” – Mark 2:1-7
“… and Jesus was speaking the word to the people…” And what was that word? There were not yet the Gospels nor the letters of Paul, Hebrews and James and the Revelation … no, I believe the “word” that He was proclaiming … was the miraculous and healing power of forgiveness.
Forefront in the Gospel of Mark, often considered to be reflective of Simon Peter’s recollection, is this account of the faith of the compassionate helpers and the healing of a paralyzed man. This teaching moment is not forefront about faith, though faith is demonstrated; this teaching moment is not primarily about healing, though healing was performed; this teaching moment is about the power of humanity to serve as an agent of Divine forgiveness.
To provide contrast, to present the prevailing understanding, the scribes are concerned that this Jesus’ speaks blasphemy. “What heresy is this?! Only God Almighty can forgive sins!” Jesus brought a new understanding … “Whatever you forgive on earth is also forgiven in heaven.”
Forgiveness is more than words. Forgiveness is not the automatic response to “I am sorry”. Forgiveness is not letting people to get away with whatever. No, forgiveness is a vow of restoration and renewal, a hope-filled gift that has faith in new beginnings having learned from our past sins.
The image I most often bring to mind is the story of the broken vase. I was a youngster and through my reckless play I knocked over my mother’s vase breaking it in two. Panicked, I found some glue and pasted the broken vase back together, returning it to the fireplace mantle. My mother came in and made no mention of that vase. Years later I was helping my mother move to a condo. I unpacked that vase. And it was so very, very obvious that the vase had broken and was clumsily glued back together. I then, now as a middle-aged man, realized that I had not gotten away with breaking that vase. No, rather I have been beautifully forgiven.
Yes, God is the One who forgives our sins, but God is not the only one.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Chairtas de la Cruz