In the United States: Independence DayAmos 7:10-17
Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven."
It is so good for us today to pause and look at Jesus in this gospel scene. Some people brought him a man who was paralyzed. The person couldn't get himself to Jesus, being paralyzed, so his friends brought him to Jesus. What is so wonderful to reflect upon is that Jesus, in his great compassion, sees right into the heart of this person and forgives his sins. That's the place he's hurting most. That's what needs healing first. That's the deepest love he has for the man. Now, of course, the "holy people" get involved and they turn this into a question of Jesus' "right" to forgive sins.
To what degree are each of us somewhat paralyzed? Some of us may be "stuck" in some pattern, addiction, or stubborn resistance. Some of us may just be so "change averse" that we have a hard time hearing or responding to invitations to grow. All of us need some help in being brought to Jesus by others.
Isn't it wonderful to recall that when he sees us somehow "stuck" in whatever rut or routine that has kept us "away," Jesus' first instinct, first desire is to tell us that our sins are forgiven? Jesus knows where we are, even when it feels like we aren't "going anywhere," and Jesus know what we need first. He offers us "courage" in our discouragement and then forgiveness for the sin that binds us.
Forgiveness always prepares the way for healing. Forgiveness always prepares the way for us to forgive those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is the ground upon which every friendship, marriage, and community is built. Forgiveness clears the "static," the energy diverting self-absorption, that opens a path for generosity and heroic love.
For those of us in the United States celebrating Independence Day, this is a big day. We treasure our freedoms and need to celebrate them. And, after September 11th, there will be a special sense of unity and patriotism this day. I suspect this is true for all nations, but for us in the U.S., it is quite appropriate to begin our reflection on this "Fourth of July" with a turn to God for forgiveness. Some of what we have done and what we have failed to do in our 226 year history must bring tears to our eyes. Experiencing God's boundless mercy can free our hearts to celebrate our freedoms and to reflect upon our responsibilities at home and around the world.
Two of the special prayers for today's liturgy in the United States
on this day seem to be fitting prayers for all of us today as we celebrate
God's love for us in Jesus and our role in sharing that love with one another.
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