Only in faith

Readings for September 13, 2020
Sirach 27:3-18:7
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

When we live in faith, we live out the love God has given to us, most vividly through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. But to live in faith requires a strong ability to forgive. The reading from Sirach reminds us that if we forgive our neighbor, “then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” Jesus also emphasises this in the prayer he taught us, saying “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” 

My wife and I are approaching our 34th wedding anniversary next weekend. And while our life together has had its ups and downs, we have been blessed with an enduring love. Without our faith and our forgiveness of each other’s faults (ok yes, mostly mine!), we likely would not have made it this far. And without the forgiveness that my wife has lovingly demonstrated for the past 34 years, I likely would not have made it this far in my relationship with my faith either.

That said, forgiveness is hard. But, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are left with a helper, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit dwells within us and is able to provide us with the strength to forgive–and to forgive again, and again. Doing so gives us the graces of God’s forgiveness. As Jesus tells his disciples, “I give you a new command. Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) To put it another way, we are made whole in Christ when we forgive another. And, in fact, only in that grace of faith are we made whole. So I will forgive. And I will follow the instruction of Peter, the rock of the Church, who advised, “above all, love one another because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) 

Because there is no room for separation of forgiveness and faith. To take Jesus’ words literally, if I have faith, I must be willing to forgive the same person for the same thing 77 times. The modern world sees the number seven as a “lucky number.” The biblical world sees the number seven as a meaning perfection. Jesus’ multiplicity of the number seven underscores the importance and the perfection of forgiveness. It leads us to our salvation. Only in faith can we forgive, and only in forgiveness will we be saved. 

Lord Jesus, it is hard to forgive. But you have taught that we will be forgiven as we have done so ourselves. I pray this each time I recite the prayer you taught. Holy Spirit give me the strength to live this prayer. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen

9 thoughts on “Only in faith

  1. It’s a wonderful post!
    I’m a widower twice. And, I was also blessed with, caring for my dear mother the last five years of her life. Spending a decade loving, and caring for my loved ones approaching deaths door… I found out that sweet odour of forgiveness is beyond my feeble understanding. Yet, I do know it’s lovely embrace!

    The real challenge for me is, the forgiveness of self.

    Thank you Tim for a most beautiful post!

    God bless you and your family!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks Tim,

    Marriage IS an interesting contradiction. And without God’s grace; I think an impossibility. (My bride and I celebrated 53 years in July)… Without Love which permits patient (thank YOU Jesus and Mary & Joseph) endurance; it just can’t happen. God’s grace and my Bride are amazing.

    God Be with you and your wife,
    Patrick

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Great post, Tim. I love this sentence– “To take Jesus’ words literally, if I have faith, I must be willing to forgive the same person for the same thing 77 times.” Seeing you word it so clearly and straight-forwardly made that statement resonate with me more than it has in the past–makes me think of how we are called to be patient and loving and merciful with our loved ones/those we live with, who might do the same annoying things over and over. How often does God forgive us for doing the same annoying things over and over!

    Liked by 4 people

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