Who can forgive? Of course, all of us can forgive one another but at times we find forgiveness difficult if not impossible. Who can forgive sins? The answer, of course, is God alone can forgive sins so when Jesus proclaims, “your sins are forgiven” some scribes and Pharisees see this as blasphemy. Jesus is claiming for himself an authority that God alone has.
Jesus tries to show these religious leaders that he does have this divine authority to forgive sins. He will prove this authority by doing the harder thing. If he says “your sins are forgiven” there is no outward visible proof, so this is the easier thing to claim. If he says, “Rise and walk” and the paralyzed man does get up and walk there is visible proof that he has the authority to heal and forgive. Jesus is trying to open their eyes to his identity. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. He heals and forgives that they may know “that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
During this Season of Advent, we are invited to encounter Jesus and come to recognize in a deeper way that Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us.” Jesus is with us to heal us and to forgive us. Jesus is with us that we may know and experience the healing power and authority of God’s love. This experience of God’s love and forgiveness enables us and even empowers us to forgive one another. This does not mean that forgiveness is easy. Forgiveness is not a switch that we just turn on. Forgiveness is especially difficult if we have been deeply hurt and have justified anger. The first step to forgiveness is not to dwell on that hurt or anger but to dwell on the love and mercy of God. Forgiveness may still take a lifetime, but we are on the road. Let us pray that during this season of Advent Jesus may heal our paralysis, our inability to allow God to love us and forgive us. We are called to place our faith and trust in God’s love and mercy and not in ourselves.
Image: “NT044.Jesus heals the paralytic” by pcstratman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.