Readings for September 13, 2020
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
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