In today’s reading, Isaiah describes the joyous return of God’s people from exile in a heathen country to freedom in their God-given homeland. The beauty and the bounty of their land Isaiah describes in Messianic terms: the desert will run with streams of life-giving water, the parched land will blossom with an abundance of flowers. The blind, the deaf, the lame and the mute, all will be cured. Those who are frightened will cast off their fears, for God will come to them and be with them; he will save them. The age of the Messiah will be an age of abundance, of health and wholeness for all, of security rooted in God’s loving protection.
In the Gospel, Jesus, by forgiving the paralytic’s sins and curing him, indicates that he is inaugurating the Messianic age promised by Isaiah in the first reading. But Jesus is only inaugurating the Kingdom, he is not establishing it in its fullness. Sin still mingles with good in this world, the selfish lust for wealth and power lives side by side with and contradicts the Messianic values: widespread abundance equally shared by all, health of body and spirit, wholeness.
The chosen people’s journey back to Jerusalem required first of all a conversion: sorrow for sins, a determination to live a new and committed life, forgiveness by God. In the Gospel you’ll find the same reality: the paralytic is cured of his affliction only after his sins had been forgiven.