Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 309

"Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?"


The scribes of today's gospel are perfectly correct. Who but God can forgive sins? I certainly don't do it very regularly, except my own sins which I forgive too readily. 
More often we just forget about them, as if we could forget about them. We let them settle into the past along with all the other resentments, grudges and debts we're owed by others. We don't talk about them; they didn't happen; they weren't important; we've got better things to worry about. 
We often miss the opportunity these unfortunate events offer to seek reconciliation, better understanding and deeper communion. A sin between friends or family may be a felix culpa, a "happy fault that merits such a redeemer" as the cantor sings during the Easter Vigil. 
Marriage Encounter suggests "rules for fighting" that transform the crisis into an opportunity. 
Alone, I am not able to forgive any sin. I can only do so in union with the Church, which is the Body of my Lord and Savior. In prayer, asking that same Holy Spirit which gathers the Church, I ask the Lord to move in my heart toward reconciliation and communion. This is not an imaginary conversation but a real one with the person who has offended me, or to whom I have given offense. (Sinning or sinned against? They amount to the same thing -- an opportunity for grace.) 
I have to set aside that paralyzing fear of rejection and rebuff. That's the hard part and I confess I don't do that often enough. It's really not so difficult to put on the armor of Christ which is honesty, humility and vulnerability. I know that from past experience. I need to remember it more often. 
In today's gospel Jesus did not hesitate to heal the paralyzed man and forgive his sins. Even in the second chapter of Mark's gospel, the Lord knew where this would end. He would meet opposition every time he healed, preached, or showed compassion to the hungry crowd. With no other weapon than God's word and no guidance than God's spirit he moved toward Jerusalem and Calvary and Easter. 
Our willingness to reconcile differences are not usually so dramatic but they are important. With His Spirit we can do this. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.