Forgive Us
Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

As they wrote the Gospels, the four Evangelists clearly showed that Jesus of Nazareth really was more than the promised Messiah, he was Emmanuel: God among us. They took examples from his everyday life to describe what he had done during his life here on earth. But we have to pay attention when we read these accounts for they not only describe Jesus’ daily life, they continuously inspire us to look at our own lives and seek to change them for the better.

In our Gospel Reading today, more important than the fact that Jesus healed the paralytic, is the fact that he forgave his sins – something only God can do. What Saint Mark is trying to tell us in this reading is that Jesus is God, that he forgives those who actively seek forgiveness and that we must also forgive.

As we begin the Gospel account, we see that Our Lord had just returned to Capernaum. As the news of his arrival spread by word of mouth so many people came from the surrounding area to see him that there was no more room in the house where he was staying for anyone else to enter. Even the doorway was completely jammed with people. Then a sick man suffering from paralysis was brought forward. Four of his friends or family members carried him on a stretcher. Even though they tried, it was impossible for them to approach the Master through the door. They showed their tenacity by coming up with a way to get him closer to Jesus. They climbed up on the roof, removed some of the tiles and lowered the stretcher through the hole that they made so that it came down almost on top of the Lord.

Seeing the persistence of these men, Jesus decided to do something for the paralyzed man. Surprisingly, the first thing that Jesus did was to absolve the sick man of his sins. Only afterwards did he cure the paralysis. The fact that Jesus cured people’s sicknesses showed others that he was really the Messiah. But the reason that he took on our humanity, the reason that he came to dwell among us, was not to cure physical illnesses but to free humanity from the worst of evils, the slavery of sin, which is the cause of all human ills.

If they had to choose between illness and sin, many people would be more worried about the illness and how to come up with a cure for it. We know that being pysically ill can be painful and frustrating. Yet, we should also realize that the sin that plagues our souls hurts our humanity much more than any physical illness. That is why for Our Lord forgiving sins was more important. He knew very well the harm that our sins can bring to our family, to our friends, and, above all, to ourselves, to our humanity.

Pope Benedict XVI recently said, “That gesture of Jesus, Who stretches out His hand and touches the scarred body of the person who calls on Him, perfectly expresses God’s will to restore His fallen creature to health, giving him back ‘abundant life’ - eternal, full and joyful life. Christ is ‘the hand’ of God reaching out to humanity, that it may escape from the quicksand of sickness and death, and stand on its own feet on the solid rock of divine love.” (Meditation given by Benedict XVI before praying the Angelus, October 12, 2006)

We Christians have always believed that each member of the community has the obligation to forgive those who have wronged them. We know that sacramental forgiveness can only be received in the Sacrament of Penance but each one of us has the power to heal broken relationships by forgiving those who have caused us harm. Just as we have feel the mercy of God when we receive His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, we are obliged to be merciful with others, to forgive those who have caused us harm. But let us not forget that we also have an obligation to ask for forgiveness from those people that we have harmed. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” should be more than just a phrase we say in the Our Father. It should be the foundation of our life.