Sunday Sermon: God goes on trusting man until man decides otherwise

The liturgy of the seventh Sunday in ordinary time is based on the following readings: Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25; Psalm 41; 2Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12.

The liturgy of the seventh Sunday in ordinary time is based on the following readings: Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25; Psalm 41; 2Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12.

The main theme of our liturgy is on the liberation of man from sin. The readings inform us that all God promised to mankind was fulfilled in Jesus Christ; the salvation and forgiveness of sin, which was done in a new that only belongs to God.

From the doctrinal point of view, we see Jesus treating the spiritual paralysis of the patient before he cures his physical illness. When they brought him a paralysed man for healing, the people around were surprised to hear Jesus say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’. ‘Only God can forgive sins’ the crowd murmured.  Here Jesus teaches us to be aware of the spiritual paralysis by sin, because it leaves us prostrated and incapable of relating well with our Creator. For Jesus, it was more urgent to pull the sick man out of his spiritual infirmity, because he was in a vicious circle difficult to break out personally.

The basic logic brought out in the Gospel is not that, since Jesus is God, he can forgive sin! The logic here is that since Jesus forgives sin, and makes a paralytic walk, he is God. Hence the scribes were right to reserve forgiveness of sins to God, as they said that only God can forgive sins. But they betrayed their intellectual dishonest when they denied the incarnation of the Son of God. They were scandalised by the fact that God has become human; and has never revoked this decision, he has so trusted man that he still works through the humanity of Jesus, who is present in his body which is the Church today.

The level at which God has trusted man continues to be a scandal in men. The initial amazement or scandal experienced by the bystanders as Jesus forgave the paralysed of his sins was due to seeing that “authority on earth to forgive sins” that Jesus had as he walked on earth and mistaken for the mere son of the carpenter Joseph and Mary. Such people could not see that “something new” that God was accomplishing in their midst.  The modern man continues to express the same wonder and often the same scandal because the power to forgive sins is still “on earth”, no longer a hidden power exercised by God in the heavens. This power which belongs to “the Son of Man”, Jesus teaches us that the same power has been given to man. Mark reports that it was given to men, to us, for whom and through whom the Saviour’s power to forgive is exercised. And man within his or her modesty wonders at which point can God go on trusting man who is often proves to God to be untrustworthy! Yes, God goes on trusting man until the latter
decides not to be trustworthy.

From the pastoral point of view, man stands in need of forgiveness. St. John tells us: ´If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us´” (1John 1:8). And Psalm 41; advises all of us say, “Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you”. So that in turn, all of us can be answered like the paralysed man: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” It is true that a true believer in God must learn to profit from God’s compassion by asking for forgiveness of his or her sins often in order to do away with the  paralyzing effect of all sins, that why a smart Christian will seek forgiveness and reconciliation very frequently. Not because he or she is the worst sinner, but because of his or her determination to fight against sin in all its forms, and that is the most powerful instrument we have in that struggle.

The above struggle and fight against sin is best helped by the deep understanding of how we live with God’s mercy which is wrapped in human form. And instead of being scandalised by the overwhelming trust of God in man, we should struggle to keep that divine trust in man untainted. 

 

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