In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel Jesus announces the Kingdom and calls people to a change of heart. He then shows himself as one who has power to heal and drive out demons. A new voice is being heard in Israel and a miraculous power breaks into the ordinary lives of men and women. Jesus caused a sensation. People want to see him and hear what he had to say. Even representatives of the religious leadership join the crowds to size him up. Up to this point Jesus hadn’t really broken any expected molds. There were prophets and healers before him in Israel.
But Jesus was about to reveal something that would become fully known and understood only in the light of his death and resurrection. Four men carry a paralytic to Jesus, but can’t get near him because of the crowds. Not to be stopped, they go up on the roof, separate the tiles, and lower the mat upon which paralytic was lying into Jesus’ presence.
We can sense their enthusiasm and determination by their boldness.
Jesus senses much more: faith! We expect Jesus to act as he had done before and cure the paralytic. But the does a new thing. “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Wow! The scribes are shocked. “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” They got that right.
“Child, your sins are forgiven!” These are words that people longed to hear. They are words that I need to hear. May my wounded heart always have the faith that brings me to the sacrament of Reconciliation to hear the same words spoken to me by Christ’s representative: “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.