In the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit!
We just heard in today’s Gospel reading about how they brought the paralytic to Jesus and He healed him. I would like to draw your attention to two ideas in this story. The first is prayer for others, distant and close. The second is forgiveness of sins. These two ideas are tied closely together. Firstly, because prayer about those close to us intercedes, as we have seen, for the forgiveness of sin. Secondly, in the plan of our human existence, forgiveness is also prayer.
Of course, forgiveness from God and human forgiveness are two different things. Christ speaks and acts as God. Seeing the faith of those who brought the paralytic, He says to the sick man, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (Mat. 9:2) That is, he speaks with divine authority. And then, when the Scribes thought to themselves that he was committing blasphemy, Christ saw this right away since nothing can be hidden from God all-seeing, not the depths of the human heart, and he exposed them, saying, ““Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” (Mat 9:4-5).
Let’s pause here for a moment and think about what The Lord is saying. “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” (Mat 9:5). What is this about? He seems to be saying, “You think I am an ordinary person and accuse me of blasphemy for speaking words of forgiveness, but can it really be that hard to forgive sins? Isn’t it much harder to heal a paralytic, telling him to ‘arise and walk?’ After all, forgiveness is available to all but healing is available to God alone. Just as ‘the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ (Mat 9:6), you also have the same power, being likewise sons of men.” When the God-man Jesus Christ speaks of himself as The Son of Man, he is speaking of our human nature which He took upon Himself. And when He is called the Son of God, this is witness to his divine nature: two natures united in Him without confusion and indivisible. Therefore, we all have this power to forgive the sins of those close to us. This is not the same forgiveness as that offered by God since He forgives and heals, but it is forgiveness. Speaking as the Son of God, Christ says to the paralytic, “’Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ And he arose and departed to his house.” (Mat 9:6-7). The people who were there marveled at the miracle that took place right in front of their eyes and glorified God.
What is the use of our human forgiveness if it does not have the power to heal? Why then should we forgive?
The root of any disease, be it of the soul or of the body, is sin. Before there can be healing, there needs to be deliverance from sin, that is, before healing can be complete, there must be forgiveness. This way, when we forgive someone close to us, who sinned against us, we are petitioning God to heal him from sin. Forgiveness of one close to us becomes our prayer to God for him. God, seeing in this our faith and love, heals. Examples of this are plenteous and everyone who has ever forgiven knows about it. Whoever does not know needs to begin forgiving and find out - find out how miraculously strife is resolved through forgiveness, as the soul is healed from offenses, envy and anger, and most importantly, the soul of the one doing the forgiving is healed. And then, the one being forgiven is healed by God Almighty through the intercession of our forgiveness for him.
Truly, having seen this, seeing it together with the people in the Gospel, we glorify God “who had given such power to men.” (Mat 9:8). Amen.