O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Jesus heals a paralytic
One day, while Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the one who was paralysed – ‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’
Jesus asked: Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”?
Today’s reading comes immediately before Jesus calls the tax-collector Levi into a life of discipleship. In the next chapter of Luke’s gospel we read of Jesus naming his twelve apostles, those to be sent out in his name. Then will come the moment when Jesus will give the twelve power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. In between these important milestones Jesus preaches, teaches and heals. All of these events lead us to the moment in our pilgrimage of faith where we are called to take the mantle of Christ-like behaviour upon our own shoulders as we, in faith, live and preach the Good News and help others to know the love, light and joy of Jesus in their daily lives.
In today’s reading we find ourselves being asked a question that was originally asked of the scribes and the Pharisees. This question appears, on the surface, to have only one logical answer: it is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven. But, is the mere utterance of those words sufficient?
People struggle with the challenge of forgiveness. We know that that is our Christian calling, but … ! Too often we speak of ‘red lines’ beyond which there can be no hope of forgiveness or reconciliation. Those arbitrary ‘red lines’ are the source of so much conflict in this world, and they remove any chance of our bringing healing into the lives of others.
Jesus empowered his disciples, and us, to be his representatives in this challenging world. Having been entrusted with such authority we need to reflect upon the example we can set as we forgive in Christ’s name. If we can bring ourselves to forgive in a spirit of Christian humility we will see something else happen … we will see people liberated as they see the light and life of Christ. We will see people stand up and walk away from that which disfigures their lives.
Lord, help us to forgive;
help us to share your love and light;
help us to bring others to know your healing touch.
Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer.
That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness, let us pray to the Lord.
That we may seek Christ in the scriptures and recognize him in the breaking of the bread, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may bind up the broken hearted, restore the sick and raise up all who have fallen, let us pray to the Lord.
That the light of God’s coming may dawn on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death, let us pray to the Lord.
That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world, let us pray to the Lord.
Let us commend the world, which Christ will judge, to the mercy and protection of God.
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin to the
light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Uniting our prayers with the whole company of heaven,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us,
scatter the darkness from before our path,
and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.