Tag Archives: forgive and forget

Love your what?

Readings
Genesis 45.3-11, 15
Luke 6.27-38

After I finished my lecture Professor Jürgen Moltmann stood up and asked one of his typical questions, both concrete and penetrating: ‘But can you embrace a četnik?’ It was the winter of 1993. For months now the notorious Serbian fighters called ‘četnik’ had been sowing desolation in my native country, herding people into concentration camps, raping women, burning down churches, and destroying cities. I had just argued that we ought to embrace our enemies as God has embraced us in Christ. Can I embrace a četnik—the ultimate other, so to speak, the evil other? What would justify the embrace? Where would I draw the strength for it? What would it do to my identity as a human being and as a Croat? It took me a while to answer, though I immediately knew what I wanted to say. ‘No, I cannot—but as a follower of Christ I think I should be able to.’ — Miroslav Volf, Preface to Exclusion and Embrace

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Perhaps you’ve heard this before: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ Or so they say.

Joseph’s brothers were lucky he didn’t subscribe to that little piece of wisdom. They had thrown him into a hole, sold him to slave traders, and never expected to see him again. Years later, they were begging for food while he had risen to the top in Egypt. Now, they were at his mercy. Would there be any mercy, or would they get what they deserved? Would they get the reward for their dreadful actions toward Joseph, or could something else be born out of their situation?

Well, the story goes, Joseph treated them with grace. Unmerited favour. And Jesus today speaks about treating people with grace, even our enemies.

One of our kids came out from preschool after his first day there. His face was beaming, and I wondered what he would say to me about his day. Excitedly he said to me, ‘Dad, I made two […pause…] enemies today!’ I never did get to the bottom of that; but most of us like to think we don’t have any enemies. 

But suppose you do. Just suppose there’s someone in your past or present who’s tried to do you harm. To damage your reputation, or undermine you at work, or just dead-head your favourite flowers in the garden. It could be anything. Enemies don’t all come in one size or shape. They’re not necessarily obvious at first. 

(Maybe you really don’t have any enemies; but there may be people who annoy you, irritate you or rub you up the wrong way…)

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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 3 October 2010)

Singing forgiveness songs


Reading:
Psalm 137

The Bible pronounces ‘blessedness’, or happiness, upon a number of people. The Bible says,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…
Blessed are the meek…

Such wonderful and lofty thoughts! But the Bible also says:

O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
Happy shall they be who take your little ones
and dash them against the rock!

Blessed are the meek…Blessed are they who dash your little ones against the rock.

That the Scriptures call ‘happy’ those who kill babies in such a barbaric way is a horrifying thought. And today we said, ‘The word of the Lord—Thanks be to God’. So we need to look at it carefully. What was happening there? How is it the word of the Lord to us?

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C: 19 September 2010)

Forgive. What? Why?


Reading
Luke 16.1-13

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read:

Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.

On the Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

We all need forgiveness.

For three weeks, I want to concentrate on forgiveness. This week, what is forgiveness and why forgive? Next week, on Social Justice Sunday, forgiveness between nations and peoples; and in two weeks’ time, what do we do when it’s too hard to forgive?

Today, we heard the Parable of the Unjust Steward. This parable is not Jesus’ teaching on small business practice. Please don’t write to Nick Sherry, the Minister for Small Business, or to Bruce Billson, shadow minister for small business, asking either one to implement the business principles found in this parable.

This parable isn’t about managing a small business, but it is about what this rather cartoonish figure of a steward does with his master’s abundance. He spreads it around! Specifically, he forgives debts: ‘Quick,’ he says, ‘let’s adjust your debt downwards. A hundred jugs of olive oil? Make it fifty! A hundred containers of wheat? Let’s call it eighty!’

The steward is very generous indeed with his master’s stuff.

This is a parable about forgiving others. In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says:

…forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone
indebted to us.

This parable says that it’s always a good time to forgive debts. It’s always a good time to forgive people. It’s always a good time to share God’s forgiving love. Continue reading

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