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Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Lord heals a paralytic after first forgiving his sins. Jesus’ initial words to this paralyzed man are, “Your sins are forgiven.” Why does God forgive our sins? Because he wants us alive, he wants us moving, he wants us in action, realizing what we can be.

Jesus comes to liberate us for deeper life, to open a new future to us. Sin is a refusal to live according to God’s purposes and desires. Our obsession with past sins paralyzes us. God is opposed to this obsession with the past, because it renders us unable to move.

I can brood over my past sins to such a degree that I become finally paralyzed, unable to move. “Your sins are forgiven” is another way of saying, “Don’t be paralyzed by sins that you undoubtedly worry about far more than God does.”After saying his sins are forgiven, Jesus says, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” That’s the way it works: First comes the forgiveness of sins, and that is a liberating power in us. Now I can live for the future.