Surely the folks who brought a paralyzed man to Jesus heard a little more than they probably expected. Certainly the scribes did! Instead of saying "Be healed!" to the man, Jesus says "Courage ... your sins are forgiven." Only after that does Jesus heal the man. The scene here where Jesus mixes two realities, sin and healing, is confusing to some and maybe to some who read the text today.
What is the problem? It is simple: is the paralysis the result of sinning? Again, some might think this is the situation. We have that reality in our world today. There are some who continue to believe that HIV AIDS and AIDS itself are God's punishment to immorality and drug abuse. I remember that when cancer began to take a spotlight from other diseases, many were attributing the disease to sinfulness.
So what is the meaning in Matthew's account of what happened? Again, it is rather simple to state but perhaps more difficult to believe or live. Jesus putting the healing of the soul before the healing of the body was his way of leading people to understand that healing the body should give doubters the proof that if he can heal the body, Jesus can also heal the soul.
Just recently someone said to me that he could not forgive himself for some of the sins of his past life. This I have heard many times both in the confessional and outside. Stop and think: if someone truly believes this about himself/herself -- that he/she cannot forgive himself/herself -- that seems to be something of an offense against God himself. God forgives all. Doesn't not being able to forgive oneself put the self above God? If God can forgive a sin of one person's life, that person is not greater than God and must seek help in coming to forgive him/herself.