Your Sins Are Forgiven: Mark 2:1-12


When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”  Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”– he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

In the short time we have been studying St. Mark’s gospel, he has made it abundantly clear that Jesus had/has unmatched authority. In His teaching, His healing the sick and His casting out of demons. Now St. Mark shows us another unique aspect of Jesus’ authority; His authority to forgive sins.

Who but God alone can forgive sins?” This question asked by the scribes in Jesus’ day, is also asked today by our Protestant brothers and sister, who don’t understand the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Like the scribes, many Protestant Christians refuse to see the authority Jesus left with the Church He founded. Many believe the Church to be an “institution of man” and nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus Christ Himself says upon this rock will build my church (Matt. 16:18). The Church is no more a “man made” institution than the Earth itself is, which He created as well.

Many Protestants (of which I was one) rely solely on Sacred Scripture as their authority (which in a sense, means, they accept the authority of the Catholic Church being it was the Church that was given the authority by Christ through the Holy Spirit to canonize the Sacred Scripture). But what does Sacred Scripture have to say on this issue? In my studies, I have yet to find where we are to confess our sin to God alone. I have however, found these:

  • Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Matt. 5:23-24
  • “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matt. 18:15-22
  •  People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.  Mark 1:5
  • (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20:21-23
  • Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. James 5:14-16

We all need healing and forgiveness. We all need conversion and an ever-deepening relationship with God the Father, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. Jesus provided the way for us to continue to grow in holiness by giving His authority to the Church He founded.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it this way in paragraphs 981 and 1444,1445:

981
After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.” The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:
1444 
In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”
1445
The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

I will leave us with one last thought from St. Augustine (also quoted from the Catechism paragraph 981):

The Church has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.

So this week, let us be reconciled to God through His gift to the Church, as well as reconciled to one another. For we are indeed One Body.

Amen.

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8 Responses

  1. “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matt.” 5:23-24
    It looks to me like Jesus is telling us to go directly to the person we sinned against, not an intermediary.
    “We all need conversion and an ever-deepening relationship with God the Father, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit.”
    Tell me, how do we grow our relationship with God if we don’t go directly to Him when we are seeking forgiveness? For more of my thoughts on this topic, please go to…
    http://histruthwillsetyoufree.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/catholic-confession-%e2%80%93-a-manmade-obstacle/

  2. E.D. why go to the person at all, if God is the only one to forgive sin? By your reasoning, if we only go to God we will still be forgiven….right?

    But we do! We do go directly to God. We grow our relationship with God by being obedient to His commands, one of which is confessing our sins.

    Did I say in this post that we don’t go directly to God to ask forgiveness? No, I did not.

    What I did say was, “Jesus provided the way for us to continue to grow in holiness by giving His authority to the Church He founded.”

    His authority, as we see in one of the quotes of John’s gospel, was given to the Apostles “to forgive sins”. They (the Priest’s of today) are Christ’s ministers to carry on Christ’s work, until He comes again.

    It was hard for me to understand these truths as a Protestant as well. I just thought it was a “man made” thing too. But as I studied the writings of the early church, and how these practices were observed from the very beginning, and it didn’t change for 1500 years, I had to ask myself, “If Jesus said the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against His Church, and by the death of the last Apostle, had fallen into heresy, no to be regained until 1500 years later….then Jesus lied. And all the people who lived between say…110 AD and 1517 AD, are burning in hell because the Church Jesus founded, and said was going to be “guided into all truth” wasn’t ,for that long a period of time…Then this Christian God is a weak God who doesn’t keep His promises, and maybe I should look elsewhere.”

    But we know God does keep His promises, and He isn’t a weak God! He is the God that left us a taste of His kingdom here on earth, His Church. Who He still guides and protects today. Who He has given His authority to “bind and loose”. Who gave us Baptism as a sign and seal of our covenant bond. Who Confirms His Holy Spirit within us, as we are being made into disciples and choose to follow Him. He gives us His Body and Blood to nourish us and to renew our covenant vow to follow Him when we do fall short. Who gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when Jesus Himself says through the priest, “Your sins are forgiven.” What a wonderful and mighty, yet gracious and merciful God we serve and love. May all glory and honor and praise be His.
    Amen.

    Blessings to you, E.D.

  3. I have a friend that switched religions from Catholic to Seventh Day Adventist and he sent me a video from his church that stated that the pope was the antichrist and that we the Catholic church were representing the devil. I was shocked and sadness filled my heart to hear such words. I truly believe that other branches of Christianity should be respected for what they believe not looked down on. If anything It pushed me forward in my strength towards my faith and im wondering was it wrong for me to try and talk my friend out of his switch and to be somewhat mad at that video?

  4. Stephen,
    I think your reaction to this video (shock, sadness and anger) is natural. Yet, as Paul would caution in his letter to the Ephesians, “in your anger do not sin.”

    First, as Catholics, we need to understand that those who convert to Potestantism, do not change “religions”
    (as it were). All that really changes is the practice of that religion. So they are still our “brothers” as amiss as they may be.

    Secondly, I think it’s only right to talk to your friend about the mistake he is making by leaving the fullness of what Christ left us in His One ,Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, for one that didn’t come into existence until 1863 under the teachings of William Miller.

    I believe we should be respectful of our seperated brothers, too. And another thing that would serve both Catholics and Protestants well, is to remember, “who” is the cause of discord? Who knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand? So when we participate in such devisive talk, when truth isn’t involved, we participate with the devil.

    Finally, continue to pray for your friend, pray that God will reveal the truth to them, and that they will be receptive to it. “The prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

    I will pray for them, and you, brother Stephen. Thank you for your visit, your comments and questions and I hope that I was helpful to you through the Holy Spirit.

    Peace be with you.

    Tim

  5. I have produced a short film called heaven and hell.
    would you like to have it, send me your address, I will send it.
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  6. Hi tim! I just want to say god bless you! You have helped me so much through reading my bible! I have never read the bible in my life and it is so rewarding. I am a very confused catholic. There are times when i would like to be at a church and feel the presence of god but sometimes i dont always feel that at a catholic church. Then when i do go to non catholic churched i enjoy it but i dont feel it to be very spiritual and feels like im in a building to have a meeting. Im really just trying to find my place in the church. In the mean time im just continuing to read my bible with your assistance and see where i go from here. Thank you for all your help on making me understand the catholic faith! God bless!!

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