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Monday, October 14, 2013

Today’s Reading | Matthew 9:1–8

And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town.

And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ 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 then said to the paralytic —”Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (NRSV)


In this passage, Jesus offers a man who is paralyzed what he has not asked for—forgiveness. This is as strange to me as it is as blasphemous to the scribes around him. Sin breaks us, says Augustine of Hippo; it makes us bend into ourselves so that we cannot walk the spiritual path of God’s love. What Jesus offers this man is forgiveness—but not simply a forgiveness of the divine that is angry with the human, but rather the forgiveness that will allow this man to forgive himself.

I do believe forgiveness is a process and it starts somewhere, not in your pretending to forgive or simply trying to forget, but in your choosing to forgive even when it seems unforgiveable. You choose to say the words “I forgive” and follow up with the action to encourage the other to walk so they won’t be broken by your anger, bitterness, and condemnation. You offer them to join the process of forgiveness so that in it they can forgive their very self and so can you. From this place of strength, you begin to live into the impossible task of forgiveness and remember the place of your forgiveness, when God called you beloved.


God of forgiveness, I struggle to forgive. I’m afraid that I will be hurt or taken advantage of and made a fool. Sometimes I don’t want to forgive, and sometimes I don’t think I should forgive, and still other times, I don’t know if forgiveness is even possible. God of all possibilities, forgive me, even as I struggle with forgiveness. Help me to overcome my fear that I may walk the journey of forgiveness—that of my own and of others. Amen.

Written by Edwin Estevez, Pastoral Resident

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