Readings and Reflections for Thursday 17 January 2019: Epiphany

Daily Office Readings

AM Psalm 18:1-20; PM Psalm 18:21-50
Isa. 41:17-29; Eph. 2:11-22; Mark 2:1-12 

Part 1

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

This action takes place after four friends tear open a roof in order to place their paralyzed friend before Jesus for healing.

I am absolutely convinced that Jesus takes the faith that is planted in us and uses it to do good works.  Almost every time we see Jesus doing a miracle he mentions the faith of the person or persons involved.  This is amazing to me because although this faith is in us we are not equipped to make use of it ourselves.  It is through prayer, in thought, word and/or deed that our request is made known to the Holy Spirit of the Incarnate Word of God and then God reaches inside us, uses the God-given spirit in us for the benefit of us.  Wow!  I have seen this in action when one of my young parishioners was in a terrible motorcycle accident.  His mother, sister, other family members, myself and even one of the doctors asked if she could pray with us. It was powerful.  At that prayerful moment we were on Holy Ground.  It was later that I heard another one of the surgeons approaching our waiting area saying “that was a strong young teenager.”  No sir, I thought to myself, that was God using our faith for the healing of this child.  Sin is not always something that we have done.  Sin is the deviation from God’s plan. Such deviation is brought directly to God’s attention through prayer, And God’s ears hears tears.  

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people.

Part 2

“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— 1‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’” (Mark 2:10, 11)

When Jesus is challenged regarding his authority to forgive sins Jesus shows the doubters that His power is beyond the simple physical matter of nature. Jesus is Lord of the seen, and the unseen – of this world and the next.

Jesus not only forgives sins which is something we also are equipped to do, He also makes the lame walk which even with all our technology often fall short of physical healing.

Yes, I said that, we, you and I, can forgive the sins of others and our selves. It’s not easy, but it is possible.  I recall a murderous act in Pennsylvania some years back when on  October 2, 2006, a shooting occurred at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (Wikipedia)   Hurt and devastated to their core, the family and Amish community forgave the man who did the sin.  Amish are low tech, high faith, God loving people, and my faith heroes.

My point is that instead of making hate for the perpetrator our default emotional position, let’s use the love and calm that God in Christ has already placed inside us.  All the hate in the world will not bring back the lost one.  It is sad. But we must be reconciled to God.

We also must learn to forgive ourselves.  No matter how low we might sink the hand of God can reach us.  My favorite example of this “come to self” story is the one of the prodigal son in chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke where we read, “But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you…” (Luke 15:17-18)  Self forgiveness is so important, it cannot be over emphasized. And yet, self forgiveness can’t be a carefree dismissal of what we have done or said. Forgiveness of our own sins is made manifest by our walking from the sin renewed and repentant, vowing never to do it again. Such repentance makes us and God happy.  Be well.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people.

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