Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 8:4-7.10-22a; Mark 2:1-12)
The man was having a hard time. He moved out of his parents’ house to marry a divorced woman. When the marriage didn’t work out, he came back to his parents but slept on a bed in the basement. He seemed to feel unworthy of the dignity of having his own room. Some would say that he could not forgive himself for marrying outside the Church. But is it not more the point that he refused to accept God’s forgiveness? Today’s gospel offers some insight into the dynamic.
When Jesus tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven, nothing is mentioned of the man’s disappointment with not being healed forthrightly. Perhaps, believing that Jesus’ word is as trustworthy as a ride on a mule, he gives a sigh of relief that his past no longer threatens his eternal life. At least he can raise his head in public again because he acknowledged his faults and accepted the grace of forgiveness. However, the scribes – Jesus’ law-obsessed adversaries – do take umbrage. They object that Jesus outrageously presumes divine power by claiming to forgive sins. Jesus then shows that he indeed has supernatural power by enabling the paralytic to walk. The healing dramatizes the meaning of forgiveness. Now the man can walk freely in society.
In a secularized society speaking of “forgiving oneself” will have currency as people believe that they are accountable mostly to themselves for the lives they lead. We Christians, however, know that we are made by God and for God. Assured of His forgiveness when we repent of our sins, we recognize our place as His beloved children awaiting the fullness of redemption.