1st Friday in Ordinary Time, Year 1, January 13, 2023
Heb: 4:1-5, 11; Ps 78: 3, 4bc, 6c-8; Mk 2:1-12
Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or, “Pick up your mat and go home? To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to understand the time and place it was being said. During Jesus’s time, sins were quite often believed to be causing physical issues. So, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” was a way for the paralytic, and everyone around him, to understand he will be healed. But, in the context of the preaching, it was also very controversial because only God could forgive sins. Jesus was telling everyone there, that He was the Son of God, that He, was God. While they did not say it directly, the scribes were furious about that statement, because after all, the only one who could forgive sins, was God. For Jesus to say that, was blasphemy!
In the modern world, we know science tells us that having sins does not always cause physical harm. Yes, there are many sins we inflict upon ourselves that will harm us physically. But, generally speaking, sinning in itself does not cause us to be physically paralyzed. However, we do know that our guilt from sin does cause us to be emotionally paralyzed. Jesus knew that, and also probably knew that the paralytic felt very guilty about his situation. To have to be waited on hand and foot for everything you need, would make anyone feel guilty that they are burden on society. For his friends to have that much compassion and faith to bring the paralytic to Jesus to be healed, did show a strong faith. Jesus saw that, and that is why He said, “by your faith, you are healed”. Not just the paralytic’s faith, but the faith of his friends.
So why did Jesus go on and perform the physical healing as well? We can look at it a couple ways. First, telling someone that they are forgiven, will be an inner healing that really has no outward manifestation. But a physical healing is very visible. Jesus says He did this, so you will believe. Secondly, Jesus sensed that the scribes were having a hard time with all this. In the first sense, Jesus was claiming to be God, because only by God could sins be forgiven. In fact, Jesus emphasizes this by telling them, only the Son of Man has the authority to forgive. That alone would make the scribes upset. Then Jesus needed to prove to them the harder task of physically healing the paralytic so that His first statement would have more weight. There would be no dispute on whom Jesus was claiming to be.
So now let’s put ourselves into this event. What is paralyzing us? What in our lives is causing us to be like the paralytic? One who feels so guilty we feel like we are paralyzed to do anything about it. Jesus once again gives us the answer, the forgiveness of our sins. This is why we take our children to be baptized, to free them from Original Sin. And this is why we go to Penance and Reconciliation, to be freed from that guilt of sin. To be reconciled with God and recognize that God is the one forgiving us. We do not need to be afraid to go, as no one will claim blasphemy. In fact, God will show mercy on us when we do go to Confession. Have the faith of the paralytic and his friends, go to Confession so you, too, can pick up your mat and go home.