Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 4:1-5.11; 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 case 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 emotional state.  Perhaps, he believes that Jesus’ word is as safe as a ride on a mule.  He then 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 accepted forgiveness.  However, the scribes – Jesus’ law-obsessed adversaries –take umbrage.  They object that Jesus presumes divine power by claiming to forgive sins.  Jesus then shows that he indeed has supernatural power.  He commands the paralytic to walk.  The healing dramatizes the meaning of forgiveness.  It enables sinners to walk freely in public.

A therapeutic society speaks of the need to “forgive oneself.”  People believe that they are accountable mostly to themselves for their faults.  We Christians, however, should realize that God made us for Himself.  That is, we live to give Him praise and glory.  Our sins compromise this mission.  For this reason we seek first and foremost God’s forgiveness.  Often we need to ask forgiveness of others as well.  Our sins may have hurt people directly.  Perhaps they also injured the family or community’s name.  We need to ask forgiveness all around to walk truly free.