THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
“And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, ‘Man (Ἄνθρωπε), your sins are forgiven you (ἀφέωταί σοι).’ And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, ‘Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?’ When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) has power on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the man who was paralyzed—‘I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.’ And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God.” (Lk 5: 18-25)
The Pharisees are wrong, presuming that “God only” can forgive sins. Christ, Who calls Himself “the Son of man” (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), and Who here addresses one of us paralytics as “Man (Ἄνθρωπε),” reveals to us that, in communion with Him, we all share in this “power” of forgiveness. That’s why He doesn’t say to the paralytic, “I forgive” your sins, but – your sins “are forgiven” you, in this encounter between you and Me, in our shared humanity. Christ shares with us His empowering, forgiving, grace-filled humanity with our paralyzed humanity, enabling us to rise and “go home,” when we are willing to show up for that encounter and to share in His kind of humanity, empowered through forgiveness.
That’s why He teaches us to pray, with Him, “Our Father… forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” In Him and with Him, we are all sons and daughters of God, empowered by grace to forgive our “debtors,” including ourselves, that we may rise and go forward, free of the crippling self-loathing and doubt that hinders us from responding to God’s call, in usefulness to ourselves, to Him and others. “Our Father,” I say to God today with so many others, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” that we may come “home,” to You.