Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,“What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” ~ Lk 5:22-23
As we place ourselves in prayer before the Lord who loves us, we quickly become aware of the stains on our souls. In reflecting on the perfect grandeur of God, the invincible love of Christ, the blessed and blessing presence of the Holy Spirit, we cannot help but notice our many human shortcomings.
All of us have interior afflictions that paralyze us, like the unnamed ailment that ravaged the man in Luke’s Gospel and left him motionless on a stretcher. And all of us need to ask God, early on in our prayer time, to rain his mercy down upon us for the sins that keep us from moving forward to carry out his work. This means repenting both of what we have done—snapping at a spouse, being critical of a work colleague—and of what we have failed to do—neglecting to call a friend we know to be in need, leaving a messy room for someone else to deal with.
We may feel embarrassed and even ashamed to reflect on the ways in which we’ve fallen short; as a friend once summed it up when talking with me about a difficult time in her life, “I am not proud of that.” Nor was the man on the stretcher proud of his state. But with the help of his friends, he found his way into the presence of Christ, placed his paralyzed self in front of his loving Lord and was granted the healing forgiveness that enabled him to take up a new life. We know from Scripture and from our own life experiences that God stands poised to do the same for us.
All-loving Lord, Heal the afflictions of body and spirit that beset me, so that I may rise up and walk in the light of your forgiveness. Amen.