Sunday, September 13th, Pentecost XV, Forgiveness
Exodus 14:19-31, Psalm 114, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35
The Gospel: how many times do we forgive and the parable of the unforgiving servant.
The issue of forgiveness in the parable seems to be about forgiving or not a financial debt. This may be a metaphor.
I am tempted to say that financial debt is an easier concept to understand because it is concrete, and not subject to emotional and psychological bias, but how many cases on the judge shows on TV are about the lack of understanding between the parties about whether the money was given as a loan or a gift.
That being said, forgiveness for what is said and or done is a more nuanced issue. There is more emotionally at stake. The question as to whether the person asking for forgiveness really means it, and fear that they will do it again. From the other side, they may feel they don’t need to be forgiven because they did nothing wrong, maybe it was someone else’s fault.
I cannot help wondering if those who are in the habit of blaming others and not taking responsibility for their own actions is less likely to forgive others?
Romans talks about not judging, and reading too much into the text, I thought of understanding instead of judging. That part of forgiving and being forgiven is both sides understanding what is going on with the other.
And we often hear the term; forgive and forget. I think we need to come to an understanding that is moving forward. Hopefully this will cause a change in behaviour in the one forgiven.
If not then forgiven but protected. If one forgives a loan, then maybe not leading again the next time. This may mean changing one’s perspective. If the other person is always late, then our anger is more about our expectations than them being late. It doesn’t justify the rudeness, but realize our anger is that we feel disappointed for being kept waiting when we knew they would be late, and should not be surprised. And just like with the loan, make some adjustments like not meeting them or telling them an earlier time or other response.
This is about us imperfect humans being in relationship, and we will all fail and are in need of forgiveness. And although I mentioned not forgiving and forgetting, but there is a form of forgetting or letting go. Not to forgive is to hold onto emotional anger and disillusion about the other or self. This negative emotional energy is real. To hang onto it is over time ultimately destructive. So forgiveness is letting go of the anger, forgetting about the anger. So let us take to heart the point of the parable; God is only too willing to forgive us, so let us forgive each other and ourselves.