Here is an interesting question for you to think about: what is the most important part of the Jesus’s message?
If you had to choose what was the most important verse, phrase, parable, what would it be?
How about; “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven”. That is a good one, it makes sense, and is easy to remember. What about, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Also, a good one, easy to remember and easy to put in place.
Suffice it to say that if we were to think about it for a while, we would come up with a lot more. But what about today’s gospel reading? “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
Maybe this is not the first one on our list but, why not? Consider the implications, the time that I kicked a nun in the fifth grade (long story, it was not really my fault) – forgiven, the time that I forgot my wedding anniversary – forgiven. The time that I turned my back on a friend in need – forgiven. The time that I turned my back on an enemy in need – forgiven. All the times in my life when I was less than perfect – forgiven. If that is not life changing, then I don’t know what is.
In today’s gospel, this is what Jesus says to the paralytic. He looked at the love and faith that these friends had for this man and Jesus just says, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” That’s it! Done and Done!
There was no judgement, just forgiveness. There was no fire and brimstone, just love. There was no second guessing, or hemming and hawing, just unconditional healing. Amazing!!!
In Jerimiah 1:5, it reads “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” So, our misbehavior was well known ahead of time, and he still sent His only son. Our imperfections were almost expected, and He was still willing to die on the cross for us. Our shortcomings were bound to come out sooner or later and we were still forgiven. ”Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
It is said that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve to receive Gods love. I actually go one step beyond that and say that it seems, more often than not, that I seem to go out of my way to not deserve it. And yet …
The Gospel goes on to describe the reaction of some of the Scribes. Whether it was envy for the attention drawing away from them, or an actual concern for the integrity of their beliefs (Remember to a devote Jew, only God can be God. Only God can do god things. “This man is blaspheming.” Perhaps not in words, this time, but definitely in deeds).
And what about us, would someone accuse us of doing god things? Are we quick to forgive, quick to offer comfort and healing? Would we lay down our lives?
This gospel message may not be on the top of any of our lists, but why not? Upon this message almost everything else is founded. God so loved us that he sent his only son … and, as a result, sent this kind of love and forgiveness.
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven, or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
“Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
June 30, 2022
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