Year B: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 43:18-19,21-22,24-25
The verses from Isaiah selected for reading in the Liturgy of the Word powerfully reflect the message of the Gospel: that of God’s power to forgive. God’s forgiveness is not partial - God blots the sins out completely.
There is a story of a old woman who claimed that God spoke to her when she said her prayers. Her parish priest refused to believe this and set her a challenge - “if God does speak to you then ask Him this question: what is the greatest sin I have ever committed?” The woman goes back to her prayers - asks the question and returns to the priest. “So,” says the priest, “what did God say my greatest sin was?” The woman replied “God said to tell you He had forgotten”.
The story highlights what Jesus shows in the Gospel - and what Isaiah proclaims in this reading - forgiveness removes the burden of guilt from us - and releases from the selfishness that underlies sin.
God’s forgiveness is radical - once it is given it is as if the sin was never committed. This is almost too radical for some people who hold onto guilt long after they have acknowledged their sin and been forgiven for it. Somehow, they dare not believe that when God says He has forgiven He has also forgotten. At its worst, people are almost afraid to believe in forgiveness.
They become like the paralysed man in the Gospel - afraid to move in case they do anything wrong.
The message of the Gospel and its companion reading from Isaiah proclaims that God’s forgiveness is genuine and liberating. God’s forgiveness is God doing a new deed in us - our sin is blotted out and we are set free to go back into the world, confident in our healing.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring