Edmund: Here’s a question for you… which is harder for Jesus: forgiving sins or healing a person with paralysis?
Emily: Yeah it’s an interesting question, and it’s front and center during this moment where Jesus is preaching in Capernaum surrounded by a crowd. A few men lower their friend down through the roof to get him in front of Jesus.
Edmund: You can imagine the whole crowd suddenly holding their breath. I mean, this is Jesus, the miracle worker, the healer. And I’m sure they’re thinking: “Is Jesus about to heal a man who can’t walk?”
Emily: So when Jesus says to the man “Your sins are forgiven,” the crowd was shocked. And the Scribes there start murmuring that Jesus is blaspheming.
Edmund: It’s important to know that the Scribes had extensive knowledge of the Old Testament laws and commandments. They could draft legal documents for marriages, loans, things like that. They know that no man can just…forgive sins. It was a wild thing Jesus was claiming because only God can forgive sins.
Emily: Jesus senses this and says, “Which is harder to say ‘your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?’ But so that you know the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins, rise, get up and walk.” And the man gets up!
Edmund: We know that Jesus is God. But Jesus wants us to understand that the forgiveness of sins, spiritual healing, is a more precious gift we can receive than even physical healing.
Emily: Following Jesus is difficult at times. We’re given strength and grace to follow him through the Sacraments.
Edmund: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist give us new life in Christ. But this new life doesn’t mean that we aren’t still weakened by sin and able to choose wrong. This is why Jesus gave the Church the sacraments of healing. Through these, Jesus is able to restore us to new life, even if we have made mistakes.
Emily: There are two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Edmund: God offers us restored life through the Sacrament of Reconciliation when it is weakened or lost by sin.
Emily: The catechism says in paragraph 1441 “Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power… Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.”
Edmund: Jesus visited the Apostles after his resurrection, breathed on them, and said “whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained”. Jesus gives the Apostles the authority to offer sinners restored life and forgiveness.
Emily: Jesus also gave the Church, through His priests, the authority to forgive sins through the Sacrament of Confession. In the same way that a son has the power and authority to act in his father’s name, Jesus has given the ordained members of those adopted into his divine family, the Body of Christ, the power to forgive sin in his name and on his authority.
Edmund: There are two main elements to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The first is the Holy Spirit makes us aware of our sin,giving us a contrite heart to go to confession, and stirring us to accept and make an act of penance.
Emily: And the second is God’s action of forgiving us through the priest. The priest forgives us of sin in the name of Jesus Christ.
Edmund: The Catechism gives this sacrament many names. It is called the Sacrament of Conversion because we are called to conversion from sin. It is called the Sacrament of Penance because we are called to make amends for our sins. It’s called the Sacrament of Confession, since we confess our sins to Jesus through a priest.
Emily: It’s also called the Sacrament of Forgiveness, since Jesus forgives us of sin through the priest. And it’s called the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because through this sacrament we are reconciled back to God and to our brothers and sisters in the Church.
Edmund: If we have sinned gravely enough that we could not receive the Eucharist, we are now forgiven and able to return to the Eucharist.
Emily: In the story of the prodigal son, a son rejects his family and his father and leaves to live a sinful life in a far away land. When he finally decides to come home and confess to his father that he has sinned, scripture says “while he was still a long way off, the Father ran to him.”
Edmund: Like the prodigal son’s father, Jesus is waiting for us to make even the smallest move toward him in confession. When we feel the Holy Spirit prompting us to turn back to Jesus and ask him for forgiveness, we can experience the healing power of Jesus rushing to our aid.
Emily: Jesus desires to forgive us, and he is like the Father who waits, always ready to quickly come to our aid and forgive us, and strengthen us to “go, and sin no more.” Jesus wants to give us the greatest miracle of healing, to restore us to new life through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.