They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mk 2:3-7)
We are in a Year of Mercy. Pope Francis proclaimed the Year over a month ago. In our diocese, we opened the Year of Mercy doors at the cathedral on Sunday, December 20th. God’s merciful love is real. Extremely real. Yet so few avail themselves of it.
Perhaps it is because we often get the mindset of the scribes in today’s Gospel. There are many people who treat the Sacrament of Reconciliation in just the same way: “How can the priest forgive sins?!”
You know something? The priest does not forgive sins. God forgives sins. The priest acts as an intermediary between God and Man. Jesus gave that authority to the priest when He breathed the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Pentecost and gave them authority to forgive sin.
However, when the priest utters the words of absolution, it is God Himself who is absolving us from our sins. The prayer, itself, says it all: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry, may God grant you pardon and peace and I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
In that capacity, the priest acts in the person of Christ. In the Sacrament itself, two sinners meet and celebrate the mercy and love of God. It’s that simple.
Why is it that simple? Because God can do anything that He wants and, as we heard in today’s Gospel, He wants to forgive us our sins.
FAITH ACTION: In this Year of Mercy, make a good examination of conscience and then, if necessary, plan on when you might go to confession.