Here we are on the Second Sunday of Great Lent, and after spending weeks reminding us during the Triodion about our personal spiritual journey, and after reminding us of the truth of the Church last week on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, today the Church makes a bold statement. Salvation is a group effort.
Today the Church brings us a beautiful understanding that when our personal spiritual commitment is aligned with each other as members of the Church, healing can take place. In today’s Gospel lesson we hear about a crowded house filled with believers who wanted to see and hear Jesus. The room was so filled with people, the crowd was overflowing out the door, when along came four men carrying their friend to be healed by Jesus. “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’” (Mark 2.5)
This is where I want us to focus our attention today, and for the remainder of Great Lent. It becomes very easy to focus only on our personal spiritual growth during Great Lent, but as the Gospel proves, salvation is a group effort. Just because we are blessed to be inside listening to the Word of God, doesn’t mean there are not more people outside needing also the blessings of God. It is up to us to go out and bring them, as their friends, to be healed by God.
Jesus didn’t just heal the man physically; Jesus forgave his sins. Forgiveness is a central part of every group relationship, again why we began Great Lent with the Forgiveness Vespers and why I make myself available for Holy Confession especially during Great Lent. When we come for Holy Confession, we are saying to God, “I’m sorry, because I have sinned and brought sickness into the Church.”
Because we are all baptized and united to Christ and each other, when we sin, our sin affects everyone in the Church. This is why Holy Confession is done not standing alone in front of our icons at home but in the Church with our Spiritual Father. Together we are standing in front of Christ in the hope that He will see OUR faith, and forgive our sins.
The natural result of growing closer to Jesus Christ on a personal level, is the love of God begins to flow from us to others. If we stop at our personal journey, then not only will others not be saved, but we will find ourselves wondering, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins by God alone?” (Mark 2.7) If we can’t see that forgiveness begins with our willingness to help each other, then we will remain lost. Come for confession and admit your sins before God and the Church, so together we can be saved. Then go and bring your friends to Church to be healed by God. Together we will be saved.