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From Jeffrey John - the healing of the paralysed man

... the one who was lowered through a hole in the roof. (Mark 2 v 1-12, Luke 5 v 18-26, and there is a similar story in Matthew 9 v2-8)

The main point of the story is Jesus' claim to forgive sins. It is a fundamental assumption in Judaism that God alone can forgive sins on God's behalf or with God's authority. The reality of Jesus' claim to forgive authoritatively could not be proved on its own, since it is an inward, spiritual matter. Hence the importance of the miracle. Jesus' question, "Is it easier to forgive or to say to the paralytic, get up?" is not meant to imply that forgiving sin is literally "easier" than physical healing. It is more a question of visibility. The physical healing proves the truth of the claim to exercise forgiveness.

The fact that Jesus heals and forgives simultaneously might suggest that the sickness was the result of a specific sin on the paralysed man's part, or that he was an especially sinful person. But as is referred to elsewhere in the Gospels, as well as the book of Job, human sickness is to be linked not so much with the personal sin of the sufferer as with human sinfulness in general. From the Gospel point of view all disorder, even natural phenomena, derive from the separation between God and the world. Conversely the various demonstrations in the Gospel of the power of Jesus over sickness, sin, disorder and death are all equivalent signs that he bears the authority of God to drive back the darkness, and reclaim the world and human beings for their creator.

Many Christians are suspicious of sacramental confession, but it does carry a special healing power for those who still need to hear the kind of objective and authoritative declaration of God's forgiveness that Jesus makes in the story. A desperately needed ministry (which the Church is not particularly effective at) is the opportunity to open oneself up in faith, and to be reassured of God's acceptance of our whole person, despite the sin and mess.

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