January 14, 2022

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him [the paralytic], “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

This incident takes place at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. We are told that Jesus returned “home” to Capernaum. His reputation had already spread far and wide, and people gathered to hear him. The paralytic, who had to be carried by four friends, could not get near, so they broke through the roof to lower the man to where Jesus was sitting. Jesus, of course, cured him, but not before forgiving his sins.

Two things should be noted here. First is the importance of faith. Jesus saw their faith. Our faith can touch those around us and bring about healing. Second, Jesus began by forgiving sins. We need not necessarily assume that sinfulness had brought about his paralysis. It is just as likely that Jesus saw his healing as touching the whole person, physically and spiritually. It was also not above Jesus to provoke this controversy to show that he could, indeed, forgive sins—then and now.

Note that Jesus began his ministry around Galilee by claiming that the kingdom of God was near at hand. It is a kingdom where love, the willingness to forgive, and healing are characteristic. Each Eucharist we celebrate begins with our asking forgiveness. We also acknowledge our need for forgiveness in the communion rite. Jesus can read us our hearts just as he did with the scribes. Which is more easily healed: physical or moral paralysis, sickness or sin? Both interventions are expressions of the coming of the kingdom of God, and Jesus was its exemplar and its agent. It is sad to realize that Jesus’ love and forgiveness are available to us so freely—but only if we really want to receive it.

Let Us Pray:

Dear Jesus, help me realize how much I need your healing touch. May I be open to receiving your blessings and sharing them with others.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015. His most recent book is A Eucharistic Spirituality: Inspired by Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Apostle of the Eucharist, which he co-authored with Jim Brown.