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THE JOY OF THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Friday, 1st Week of the Year, January 15, 2010
1 Sam 8:4-7,10-22, Ps 88, Mk 2:1-12


"And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, My son, your sins are forgiven" (Mk 2:5).


Jesus Christ is the Son of Man, a preexistent being who lived in the glory of God (Dan 7:13-14) and is now present on earth, preaching salvation and the arrival of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Today he shows that "the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mk 2:10). What one requires to be forgiven is faith in him. Thus Jesus forgave the paralytic when he saw his faith and that of the four who carried and lowered him through the roof. To prove that his sins were forgiven, Jesus cured him of his paralysis. If Jesus could do this more difficult thing, which could be verified, then surely he also had the authority to forgive sins, as he claimed.


Only God can forgive sins. Jesus' forgiveness of sins is a veiled claim to divinity. As the Son of Man, he had this power on earth, and he gave it to his Church so that his apostles and their successors could forgive sins on earth in his name. He promised them this power when he said, "whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 18:18). And he gave them this power when, after the resurrection, "he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (Jn 20:22-23).


Isaiah prophesied that in the days of the Messiah, at the time of the Messianic banquet, "the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces" (Is 25:8). This means that in the Messianic days, God will forgive all our sins; for without the forgiveness of sins, the human heart cannot rejoice. In forgiving the paralytic's sins, Jesus indicates that he is the Messiah, who is now bringing the peace and joy of the kingdom of God into the world. The day has finally arrived when "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined ... and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces" (Is 25:6,8).


We now live in the Messianic kingdom. The Messiah is with us. In him, we have the forgiveness of our sins and the heavenly peace of the kingdom of God on earth. Jesus' power to forgive sins continues in the sacrament of penance. He has given to men the power on earth to forgive sins, thus freeing us from the sadness, depression, and pain of heart that come from guilt, which is our greatest suffering.


It is through the merits of his death on the cross that we have this forgiveness, for on the cross he suffered all this pain and alienation from the Father for us to free us from this suffering. This forgiveness is the source of the joy of the kingdom of God, in which we can now live through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the joy of having our sins forgiven and living in the peace of the kingdom of heaven on earth. The kingdom of God, which will be consummated in splendor on the last day, is present with us now in Jesus Christ in the middle of history, in the midst of this old world and old age, renewing all things.

 

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