Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Forgiveness, the healing that prevents paralysis

Being Christian means living your life sub specie aeternitatis (i.e., under the aspect of eternity), living in the awareness of your destiny, seeking to fulfill the end not for which you were created, but for which you were redeemed at a great price. One reason why health and wealth preachers, psychics, horoscopes, astrology, etc. all hold a certain attraction for so many is that they feed off the underlying belief that this life, here and now, is all that ultimately matters. This is not true, which is not to say that this life doesn't matter, it matters hugely, but as something like a means to an end. It is not a means to an end, but the means to your end. So, what we do, how we engage reality, does really matter.

Let's look to the life of Jesus, which as Christians we do too little, to show us what matters.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes* said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home (Mark 2:1-11)

You see, the physical healing was secondary, or even tertiary. It was not primary. What Jesus did for the man who was paralytic was forgive his sins, heal his soul, restore his heart by an incomprehensible act of love, not enable him to walk, which was something the Lord did merely to silence His critics.

In his book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live, David Platt lays this out pretty simply: "Forgiveness is God's greatest gift because it meets our greatest need."

Pope Francis laid it out more comprehensively and just as simply in his first Angelus appearance on 17 March:
Let us not forget this word: God never ever tires of forgiving us! “Well, Father what is the problem?”. Well, the problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness.

Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone
Forgiveness gives us hope, which often gives us the strength we need to carry on. Hope is the antidote to despair. It is the cure for being paralyzed in the face of reality, which is often overwhelming because it is unyielding.

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