In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord says “be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matthew 9:2) in today’s Gospel.
What are our sins that need to be forgiven? Our sins are our imperfections of character. They are the things about us where we miss the mark of what we were created to be by God. Sins take many forms but they are all rooted in our miss use of our created being. In particular we find that our God given needs for socialization and security are misused by are self will.
When we sin we place ourselves above God. We make ourselves are own God. When we sin we put ourselves in conflict with God. This conflict with God is often seen in our conflicts with our fellow man. This is because our fellow man, as well as we are, is created in the image and likeness of God as it says in Genesis “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) Thus our conflicts in life are a result of our conflict with the image and likeness of God that exists within us and our fellow man as a result of placing our will in front of this image and likeness of God; or simply put our sin.
This conflict is not only with ourselves but with God because we were created to live in harmony with God. We were created to submit our will to his in order to have this harmony with Him. As we live our lives in conflict with God, others and the image and likeness of God within us our souls become sick.
The soul becomes sick because it is cut off from its Creator that nourishes it with the fruit of the tree of life. This lack of nourishment of the soul weakens the soul. In the worse cases it can no longer respond to God; it becomes paralyzed much like the man in today’s gospel.
When the soul is sick it is often accompanied by physical illness. We see this often in the Gospels with the healings of the blind, the epileptics, the deaf and dumb, and paralytics. In each of these healings we hear our Lord Jesus Christ say before the healing, as we heard in today’s Gospel, “your sins are forgiven you.” Thus, before there can be any physical healing there must be a spiritual healing.
In order to receive this spiritual healing the one that suffers must first come to believe in God and trust in Him. We see this need for belief in the healing of the epileptic child when the father says “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
Once belief is achieved then action must be taken. The action of belief is faith. We see the belief in action or faith in today’s Gospel by those that brought the paralytic to Christ. However something we may not notice is the faith of the sick man. Saint Nikolaj Velimirovic describes the faith of the sick man in the following manner “anyone in his right mind, were he to have no faith, would scarcely allow others to drag him along the streets on his bed and – even more important- haul him up onto the roof and let him down into the house.”
When the action of faith is taken it is an outward sign of repentance or a change of mind. The change of mind that occurs for the sick soul is knowing that it cannot live without God. Repentance is the recognition of the brokenness of the soul, the recognition of its imperfection. Without this repentance there can be no forgiveness, no healing, no restoration.
Repentance is a sacrifice of the self will to God’s will. In reality it is bringing our imperfection before God and offering it to Him to forgive, to heal and to restore. This is made clear to us in Psalm 50 where it says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 50(51):17)
We are further given an image of brokenness as sacrifice in the crucifixion of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. We see His broken body offered on the Life Giving Cross for the sin of the world. This sacrifice of Christ resulted in the Resurrection that opened for all of mankind the gates of paradise. The Resurrection of Christ allowed mankind’s corrupted image, brokenness, or imperfection to be restored, to be healed by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross. It allowed mankind to be forgiven, healed and restored to its created nature as our Lord said in today’s be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matthew 9:2)
So my dear brothers and sisters and Christ be of Good Cheer so that you may come to believe that you may come to faith and repentance so that your brokenness may be healed by our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Delivered by Fr. Milan Medakovic at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost 2009.