1st Week of Ordinary Time (18th January, 2019)
First Reading: Heb 4:1-5, 11
Gospel: Mk 2:1-12
Forgiveness of sins is a key concept in understanding the nature of God. Both the Old and the New Testaments bear many instances of God forgiving the sins of people. The lovely dialogue between Abraham and God is a clear example of God’s willingness to forgive the sins of people. Then we have the book of Hosea which clearly explains the unending and unconditional love of God and His willingness to forgive the disciples despite the repeated failures. The Old Testament thus bears many references to God’s forgiveness
Today Gospel bears another example of Gods; forgiveness through His son Jesus Christ. He tells the paralytic person, “Your sins are forgiven”. He explicitly forgives him. We see in another instance in the Gospel in the episode of Jesus forgiving the woman at Simon’s house whose guest he was (Lk 7:48). We also see the reactions the people had at both these instances. It creates stir among them.
When Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven”, he meant that he had as much power to forgive sins as he had the power to heal the paralytic person. He affirms his power to forgive sins as if he meant to say that “I, as the Son of God has authority on earth to forgive sins. So, he said to the paralytic, “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he said to the man who was paralysed- “I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home”.
Forgiveness implies release of sinners from God’s just penalty and the remission of all charges against us (Rom 8:1). Forgiveness does not consist mere in receiving. It is an essential part in the life of men. We are called also to forgive others. We said it so in our daily prayer says, “Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us”. St. Paul also would draw attention of his people towards the need of forgiveness by saying, “and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). He mentions the same later saying, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Lk 6:38). Hence today’s gospel exhorts us to forgive others as God has forgiven us. (Mt 18:21-22).
Forgiveness is an essential part for our salvation. We can’t receive salvation without forgiveness. When Jesus forgives us, our sins, trespasses, iniquities etc. are erased. We can experience life in Him only to the extent we love others as St. John would say, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). Let us be close to God through forgiving others as the measure we love God should be the measure we love others as well. Amen.