In today's Gospel Reading the sick man, described as a palsy, could have been anyone with a paralytic illness. He was brought to Jesus for healing and Jesus sees and responds to the faith of the people who bring him. The faith of the community. This is the demonstration of the power of prayer and the importance of praying together as a church for our loved ones and for the sick and needy.
The Scribes take issue with this, yelling blasphemy. They wonder who can forgive but God? Jesus makes a point that he could have commanded the fellow to walk, a miracle he performed many times, but it is much easier to forgive someone’s sins. And therefore, if he is capable of enabling man to walk again, of course, he is able to forgive our sins; for him, it is far easier.
We often worry when we have sinned, if we have gone too far if we are beyond reproach. This is Jesus’ way of telling us we are not. If he is able to perform great miracles and do great wonders, of course, he is able to forgive our sins; no matter how grave, it is easy for him. He wants to bring us back into union with himself; it is on us to reach out. That is the greatness of the love of God.
Matthew comments that people who saw this miracle marvelled and glorified God, who had given such power to mankind. He is talking about the power to forgive Sins. Of course, it is in God’s authority because it is God who forgives sin. God became man in Christ, God incarnate, Christ, to die on the cross for our Sins – that is how committed God is to forgiving our sins. And Matthew tells us that he lends this power to man to forgive on his behalf. How wonderful is that?
In the opening prayer to Matins that we pray every Sunday, if we come to church with a lowly, humble, penitent and obedient heart, we ask that our sins are forgiven. And in the Absolution, following our Confession, the minister absolves you of your sins through the authority of Christ, who pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeigedly believe in his holy Gospel.
So the power isn’t in my hands; it is in his. And the decision is in yours. Repent. Pray your regrets and your remorse to him of your wrongdoings, ease the burden by letting him know where you have fallen, for we are all fallen and believe in his divinity, and Christ will forgive you. He has forgiven you.
In Baptism, through the Grace of the Holy Spirit, we are born again, and our past sins are forgiven. In our Confirmation, we are committed to living a life in Christ and once again the Grace of God is bestowed upon us. However, we are still fallen individuals and susceptible to temptation, and eventually, we all sin again. We can only be Baptised once, so we don’t have another ‘reset’ option, as it were. Since we are not capable of faithfully keeping the gift given to us in Baptism, we need to seek Absolution. Penance is important to restore us to a state of grace. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is helpful in healing the wounds on our souls caused by sin. When Jesus returned after his Crucifixion to speak with his Apostles, he breathed the breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Here Christ conveyed the authority of Absolution to his ministers, the ability to retain or remit sins, and in this, he instituted the Sacrament of Confession.
In the next chapter, if we had read on, we would have heard Jesus calling on Matthew to be his disciple. Calling on a sinner, a tax collector of all people, to join his ministry. Here we have a very obvious example that Jesus Christ is a forgiver of sins because he asks the most sinful in society to join him. He knows we are all sinners and wants to show us that he loves us all regardless, and by forgiving the worst among us, he lets us know that our sins can be forgiven, too.
Of course, we have to be contrite, we have to confess, and we have to have faith. But in him, we are forgiven.