Week 1 of Ordinary Time, Friday – 17th January 2020 — Gospel: Mark 2:1-12
Forgiveness as a sign of atonement
The setting of the story in Capernaum neither reveals the name of the paralytic nor his friends. Thus the emphasis remains on Jesus and his power to restoration. Pairing the healing of the paralyzed man with the forgiveness of sins and a stress on faith connects it to more of the atonement than just its power to strengthen the fallen man. Many in this period associated sickness or other ailments, such as blindness, with sin (Jn 9,2). In this case removing the cause of a disease would also remove its symptoms. But Jesus’ opponents did not focus on Jesus’ extension of forgiveness as a medically therapeutic technique. Instead they criticized him for taking a prerogative that solely belongs to God. In this situation, while curing paralysis with a word seemed impossible, the actuality of forgiveness of man’s sins affirmed that Jesus takes upon himself those sins, suffer for them, and then die for them.