Today’s Gospel offers us an interesting point to ponder; something valuable to reflect upon. Jesus forgives sins and the Pharisees accuse Him of blasphemy, mindful that God forgives sins and unwilling to accept that Jesus is God for a variety of reasons. In order for the Pharisees to know Jesus is God, they need to have more than an intellectual understanding of what God and who God is. Although we know through the Scriptures and through a tradition of understanding which is our theology God appeals to our intellect, He raises the mind (faith seeking understanding) our relationship with Him is communal (all of us together as we share God’s love for us and each other) and personal. It’s not one or the other, it’s all of the above. This is what we as devout Christians spend a lifetime seeking perfection and balance in. From here, we can see that the Pharisees most likely lack the personal relationship with God. If they knew intimately the Father, they would know and accept the Son.
This is where we all need to stop and reflect a little bit today. Before we point any finger at the Pharisees, we must search our own souls. I for one have heard from more than a few “good Catholics” that they don’t bother with confession because they can confess straight to God and don’t need a priest to mediate. I’ve even thought the same way in my earliest days as a Catholic. We tend to see the human weakness and frailty of the priest and the priesthood. We may consider that many priests we know or know of are “no better” than we are. No one should deny that. The priest acts in “the person of Jesus Christ” when he performs the Sacraments, but like the Apostles and Disciples, has to aspire to be like Him at other times. To deny ourselves the healing of confession is not really denying the priest anything that is uniquely his, it is denying Jesus has the power and authority to work in this way. In this way, although maybe a little strongly worded, it’s a kind of a blasphemy we see the confessional to be if we deny it in this way.
The Pharisees accusing Jesus of blasphemy were limiting the Father’s ability to forgive sins through “His Son; His Messiah” just as we limit Jesus’ ability to forgive sins through “His priests” because all we see is the man before us.
Of course, I am proposing a different theology, a stronger, more trusting faith which includes the healing we receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, believing and accepting this along with all the other “gifts” the Lord gives us in the Sacraments makes for a stronger Church and in turn a stronger Christian witness throughout the world.