One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.
When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?
But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the one who was paralyzed—”I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
There’s a terrible trick our minds can play on us when we become aware of our own sinfulness: we aim to rid ourselves of the sin completely before we approach forgiveness through the sacrament of Reconciliation. We imagine that, through our own efforts, we will be able to say in the confessional, “Father, I used to commit sin X, but that was in the past. I am sorry I did it, but I have ample reason to believe forgiveness is all I need now.”
We aren’t in need of grace to sin no more; we only need the grace of forgiveness for a past life of sin that we have already left behind. And then we find ourselves sinning again, as though we never made it to the confessional in the first place.
We are like the paralyzed man whom Jesus heals. We cannot walk on our own—we need Jesus to heal us first. So, this Advent, be like the paralyzed man who was healed; let the Lord heal you of your sins and meet all your needs. Let Him be the one to give you the strength to amend your life. Let Him give you a mission, so that after you have bravely admitted your neediness before Him, He may say to you, “Rise and go.”
Our Lord’s healing touch has power over sin. God the Father of mercies gave us His Son, so that through His death and resurrection we would be reconciled to Him. His Holy Spirit has been sent among us for the forgiveness of sin, but also for victory over sin and death. So, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, let us approach the confessional for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit; in this way, we will be given the strength to overcome the temptations that lead us to sin, and we will be able to make straight His path.
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
Lord, how will we show true friendship this day? The friends of the paralyzed man are great role models for us. Nothing would stop them from bringing their sick friend to you. Their creativity, determination, and confidence enabled them to place their friend before you and rejoice in your physical and spiritual healing. We want to be like those friends. Use us to bring those we love closer to you. And direct us in the most effective ways to assist them in their physical struggles.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!