Arise and walk

Homily notes for the 14th Sunday after Trinity

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Sin is out of fashion these days, and for understandable reasons. The idea of sin has often been a cover for pressure exerted toward social conformity by religious institutions. In a more positive vein, many of us have come to realize that, at the profound depths of life, all is held within God and that separation from God is, finally, an illusion. Nonetheless, sin and forgiveness occupy a large place in our tradition, and cannot be simply ducked.

So what do we find in the readings for today? In the gospel, Jesus restores health and movement to the man sick of the palsy. He does so by proclaiming the forgiveness of sins, using the man’s physical healing as a prophetic sign of the results of absolution.

In our day to day world, in our rough and tumble interaction with one another, there is much that paralyzes us – as well as ways in which we inflict paralysis upon others. Such laming, such freezing of life is sin. Jesus speaks – and enables us in turn to speak – the word of release. That which binds the sinner is loosed, and we are free to rise, to walk, to move forward in living, so that – as the reading from 1 John put it – our joy may be full.

The forgiveness of sins is not just an invisible, pious interchange between an individual and God. Rather, it should be a display of the Word of life at work among us, visible, tangible in the power of our living, and in the love and freedom animating our relationships. Human words bring renewal of heart. Can we both speak and listen for such words this week?


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