Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Meditation on Healing and Forgiveness
Rev. Fr. Alexander Kurien
St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church of Greater Washington, Washington, DC
From the Gospel according to St. Mark 2: 1-12
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic. Healing and forgiveness
are about being whole because they are about confronting evil
and sin in ourselves and the world. God's word to us
confronts us with our weakness, sins, and ailments and offers us
healing and wholeness. The story of the paralytic should grab us
viscerally for it is the Gospel at its most raw, confronting us
with the limits of our understanding. This is what makes Mark's
story of the paralytic such good drama.
Jesus makes a number of connections we are perhaps uncomfortable
with: between sin and physical disorder, between faith and
healing. Yet, Jesus' connections are not about cause and effect
but relation. Forgiveness of sin and physical healing parallel
each other neither is more or less difficult. Each is equally
significant for the Gospel and the manifestation of the Kingdom
in this man's life. Mark also tells us that Jesus forgives and
heals the paralytic on the basis not the paralytic's faith but
the faith of his friends. He is simply forgiven and healed on
the basis of the faith of his community. The Gospel, the work of
Jesus and the manifestation of the kingdom functions in this
matrix while being center all on Jesus and the Church.
This story of healing and forgiveness is not about an individual
encounter between a person and Jesus, but occurs in the midst of
those gathered around Jesus. The man is forgiven in the midst of
his community and the community of God, the body of Christ. This
emphasis on community and church here in this story should not
surprise us since the Church has always had two rites which
parallel each other just as forgiveness and healing parallel
each other in this story: confession/reconciliation. James
5:13-18 makes this same connection of anointing for healing and
confession and forgiveness of sin. A world that can leave
its mark on us through physical ailment personal sin and
complicity with societal sin. Through Christ we come to be
renewed and made whole. Through Christ we may witness to the
Kingdom of God.
When you forgive yourself, you cease doing the thing you ought
not to do. Jesus taught that son of God has the power to forgive
sin. Sin is falling short of Divine Law. In the Lord's Prayer,
Jesus makes it clear that repentance and forgiveness are the
only means that man has of getting out of sin and its effects
and coming into harmony with God's Law (Matthew 6:12). We
forgive sins in ourselves every time we resolve to let go
mistakes and think and act in alignment with the Divine Law of
the Christ in our spiritual core. In repentance the mind changes
from a material to a Christ-centered spiritual base. In
forgiveness change must take place within the inner man before
Christ can begin his healing work.
We can especially be paralyzed on that first step of repentance.
It is very hard to recognize our own faults and shortcomings, to
honestly desire to give them up, and then to humbly ask the Lord
to forgive us and command us to go forth into life reborn to a
new awareness of our relationship to the Divine. This is what
the friends of the paralytic help him to do. They carry him up
to roof, a higher vantage point, to see himself; they dig a hole
in the roof, tearing away the obstacles; and then they help him
to ask for help as they lower him down to the feet of Jesus.
Jesus fills the paralytic with his love and his light, forgives
and accepts him, and commands him to take up his mat and walk.
It seems especially important to me that Jesus tells the
paralytic to take his mat. Although he no longer needs it to be
carried upon, it has been a part of him and he must still take
it with him to dispose of as he sees fit. When we are changed by
the Lord, we are reborn into a new awareness and new behaviors;
but this does not mean we immediately forget the way we used to
be. There are some ways in which we, too, must carry away our
mat of old behaviors, old ideas, narrow perspectives, and
prejudices, to be faced and disposed of appropriately. Let us
use this Great Lent as a time for repentance, reconciliation,
and self healing.
Story of Joseph in the Bible is an epitome of a forgiving mind, a proof that
even if man decides to hurt one's feelings or rob one's best part of life,
nothing shall ultimately prevail against what God has destined.
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