The most comforting words of the entire Gospel come on the lips of Jesus to the paralytic man in the beginning of Matthew 9:
Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.
When we hear these words, we must hear them as though Christ himself has spoken them individually to us. As Bishop Laache reminds us, it is because they are the very words of Jesus that they have the power to "drive out sin and the devil from the hearts of His hearers." If these words came to our ears merely as the human words of a preacher or teacher, they could in no way carry such a reassuring promise!
And when we hear these words, we should not doubt them. We should not doubt their efficacy, nor should we doubt that they were truly spoken to us by God himself.
"The Word is just as true when it is spoken to you in absolution [as the paralytic in the Gospel], for it is the same Word that Jesus spoke, God's own Word that He has given to the Church to speak to poor sinners, in which He Himself is present, though unseen--unseen, because faith is necessary for our salvation." (Laache)
It is only by faith that we can receive this grace. The faith that is an empty hand, open and outstretched to grasp hold of this promise of God in Christ Jesus to all who believe.
Have courage...your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.