Thursday, September 10, 2020
Freely you have received, freely give.
Why is it in this day and age, that people are unable to be merciful but, want mercy when they are in trouble? Why do people want to be rescued if they are in charge of their lives and they get to live their truth? Maybe it is because so many people have difficultly with things like sin, evil and judgement. It is things other people say, do and believe that are evil but essential we believe that we ourselves are good and therefore are not part of the problem. We are entitled to hold on to things like anger and resentment towards someone else, including God because we got hurt, we were wronged and we are going to make sure that the offender, the villain is going to get what is coming to them. So maybe our first issue is that we, even as Christians, struggle with the idea of forgiveness. The issue comes up again in terms of dealing with other Christians in the Gospel this week (Matthew 18:21-35) in the parable of the unmerciful servant. The conversation between Jesus and the Twelve continues from last week in being reminded of how to deal with someone who has offended you. Peter asks Jesus if the norm that the rabbis teach about forgiveness is to forgive the offender three times, then would Jesus agree that seven times would truly be merciful? Because after the seven time which is twice as much, you can walk away from a person and have nothing else to do with them, be they friend or even family? Jesus astonishes them with tell them, “not seven times, but 77 times.” What I believe Jesus is suggesting that there is no limit to the number of times that we should forgive a person. It is not about how many times you have to forgive another, but that you make a habit out of forgiveness for every person in your life. Our heavenly Father calls and wants you to be merciful as he is merciful to everyone, including you. This is why Jesus tells “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” to the disciples. Mercy and forgiveness must become a part of who we are and how we live. Forgiveness is like suntan lotion. You can dab it on your skin but it will not do you any good unless you rub it in so that it becomes a part of you. The Lotion can only protect when it is a part of you. Jesus tells of a servant who was called to his king’s palace and the king announced that there was going to be a settling of accounts. The servant owed an outrageous some of money 60 million denarii. One denarius was worth a day’s wages. And because he owed this much, and could not pay the some (the debt of a small country) the king directed that the servant and his family (wife and children, at least) be thrown into prison. The debt would never be paid off not even over several generations. Even so, the servant pleaded with the king to be forgiven his mismanagement and set free. The king regarded this pitiable servant and decided, through a gift of outrageous grace and mercy, to forgive the servant. He set the servant and his family free. However, the servant did not take the lesson to heart. He went and found other servants of the king who owed him money, a whole lot less money and had them thrown in jail until their debts were paid back in full. We are not told why he did this only that he did. Was it is pay back some of the debt? It is clear that very soon after he had forgotten the generosity and grace he had been shown and was a plague upon his fellow servants to make himself me secure. Servants of the king in the palace heard what this unmerciful person was doing and reported it to the king. Enraged the king had the man and family arrested and thrown in jail for the rest of their lives. Being merciful is a lot harder than needing it. There are moments when others hurt us in some fashion, and we want our pound of flesh. Christ calls on us to let go of our desire for so called justice. We are called upon to leave the hurt and the anger behind. Please understand, forgiveness is a process and not just an event. Please also remember that the forgiveness is a process. Things are going to happen. Treat people with charity. Things from your past are going to bubble to the surface and you are going to have to let them go again. In doing so, you are having mercy, not only on others but on yourself. You are not allowing the conflict within you to erupt and causing combat between you and others. And is this is of help remember what we pray when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins (our debts) as we forgive those who sin (are indebted to us) against us.” Are we ready to have God judge us as we judge one another? Are we ready to forgive as we are forgiven? After, did not Jesus say himself, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”? Jason+