Tag Archives: forgiving others

The debt of love: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, 4 September 2011)

The debt of love

Readings
Romans 13.8-14
Matthew 18.15-22

 

Almost 25 years ago, a young couple joined a vibrant, enthusiastic church elsewhere in this city. Sadly, the husband died in his 30s and his widow became a very lonely woman looking after her children all by herself.

In time, she found love again with another man. He moved into her home and they started living together. Her church’s response was to discipline her; she was told that it was impossible to be a member of the church while living with this man. They said she had to choose. She chose to leave the church.

Was this church within its rights to act like this? Well yes, it was. It can order its life as it pleases. Was this church following the way of Jesus? That’s quite another question.

On the face of it, they may well have been following the instructions in Matthew 18. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and accept they probably went to this woman and spoke to her as laid out there, with the two or three witnesses and all.

But did they follow the way of Jesus in telling her to leave? It sounds like they did. After all, Jesus says,

if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.

Treat them as a Gentile or as a tax collector! On the surface, that sounds like turf them out, ostracise them, keep the church community pure. But hang on—how does Jesus treat Gentiles and tax collectors? Continue reading

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Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A, 29 May 2011)

The risen life: the Spirit of unforgetting

Readings
1 Peter 3.13-22
John 14.15-21

The proud parents bring their new baby boy home from hospital. His older sister, all of four, asks if she may have time alone to speak with her new brother. Mum and dad agree, but they decide to listen in from behind the door. They hear big sister leaning over the cot and saying, ‘Quick, tell me who made you. Tell me where you came from. I’m beginning to forget!’

We are frail, forgetful creatures. Jesus knows that, so he says:

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

The Spirit ‘abides’ with us, stays with us as our Advocate, our Friend in high places. Jesus calls the Spirit ‘the Spirit of truth’; and ‘truth’ is a very interesting word in the Greek language in which John’s Gospel was originally written. The Greek word for ‘truth’ is aletheia.

A-letheia means ‘not forgetting’, ‘not hidden’, ‘unforgetting’, ‘unhiding’. In the Greek language of the New Testament, we find ‘truth’ as we recall things we have forgotten. And the Spirit stays with us partly so that we may not forget.

As far as the people of the ancient world were concerned, it was the dead who forgot.

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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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