Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pentecost 18: Holy Cross Day

Readings: Genesis 50:15-21, Romans 14:1-12, and Matthew 18:1-35 (sermon text).
We often wish for "easy" or "fast-forward" buttons for life. But there are non. None for the painful process of giving forgiveness, either? See the Gospel text: Peter, the bold disciple, with many foibles, figures that seven acts of forgiveness is quite enough, a heroic act worthy of a divine pat on the back. Jesus' answer, 77 (or 7x70, depending on the manuscript) signifies an infinite number of acts of forgiveness. That sounds very slow and painful! Christ drives the point home with the parable following His dialog.

The king forgave (fast-forward!) the unpayable debt of the servant. God is even more magnanimous; He showers abundant absolution on us daily! Christ's extension (the actions of the first to the second servant) shows our reluctance to forgive (fast-forward) others who have sinned against us much less than He has forgiven us. We, slow to forgive, like Peter, expect a divine back-pat. How presumptuous!

It certainly isn't easy to forgive. Granted. Thus, to forgive, we must focus on Jesus' love for us, His merciful acts, instead of focusing on others' slights to us. Don't hit pause, stop, or rewind. Remember the free forgiveness you have received from God! You are now free to forgive others - share the gift.

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