Pentecost 17 Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 Philippians 2:1-13 Matthew 21:23-32 Let us pray: Show us your ways, O Lord, and teach us your paths. Grant us grace to receive your truth in faith, hope and love -- that we may be obedient to your will and live always for your glory, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today we have another short parable of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew and it is a simple one. It comes as Jesus is being questioned by the chief priests and elders and it appears to me Jesus is calling them “Religious Couch Potatoes” as they think they know everything but do nothing. Jesus says there was a father who had two sons. The father asked them to go out and work in the field. One of the sons disrespectfully answers, "No! I won’t go!"
A little later, the father looks up from what he is doing and there is that same son working out in the field.
His other son, when asked to work said respectfully, "Father, nothing would please me more than to go out and work in the field for you." Two hours later, the polite, submissive, obedient son is still lying on the sofa watching TV.
Now think hard, says Jesus, which son do you think pleased the father more? The one who said no, but then went into action or the one who politely said yes but then did nothing?
You would agree with me that there are some things in life that you can’t really get to know unless you do them. You can’t learn how to dance, just by listening to a good speaker on the subject of "How to do the foxtrot," even if it is a very good talk on what steps to take and when to grasp you partner’s hand or waist. That’s fine to know the theory but if you really want to know how to do the Foxtrot then you have to get up and do the dance, perform the moves, and let the rhythm of the music take over.
In my pastoral training I learned all kinds of things from very learned and respected teachers. We sat around tables discussing, talking, being advised by our lecturers, and even outside of classes, we talked about deep and meaningful things. But it was only when I got out into a parish that I really learned what it means to be a pastor. All those words came to life as they were performed.
The Bible is the most important book for every Christian. But the Christian faith is not just words in a book. We can hear those words day after day in our devotions, studies and week after week in a sermon, but we only get to know what those words really mean when we put them into practice. You see it boils down to this. Being a Christian is not simply giving intellectual agreement to the teachings of the Bible. It is not some sort of guiding philosophy for life to which you give your approval.
Jesus didn’t lay down a new system of beliefs and theology. Other people have written thick books what the Christian Church teaches and believes. Jesus didn’t write anything like this. He spoke God's message to all people but more than that he lived what he taught and preached.
He not only spoke fine words about loving God and loving one another; he not only taught about forgiving, and caring for one another, or how to pray – he actually lived those words as he travelled from town to town healing, encouraging, forgiving.
The teachings of Jesus came to life as he carried out his daily ministry to others, as he gave his life out of love, as he rose victorious from the grave. Jesus didn’t ask us simply to agree with him but to follow him. He says to us, "I have given you the example. You should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. You have seen how I have not only spoken God's Word but also done the will of my Father. Go and do the same so that others may know that you are my followers." That’s where the rubber hits the road. It is the doing that really matters. The Christian faith is only known through its performance.
As a preacher, I am in the business of words. I write words, as I did for this sermon. I speak words. I think words. But as a preacher I am also aware, painfully aware, all the things that words cannot do.
A pastor asked a group of parishioners what they thought made up a good sermon. One member said, "I want a sermon which helps me to think about things in a new way."
That sounded pretty good and so he began to mold his sermons in such a way that they challenged people to think about things in a new way. But after a while he began to reassess that comment. He said: "We love to think about things. We love to turn them over in our minds, then go home and have a good lunch. We think, or feel, but never act. A good sermon ought to help my listeners to act on things in a new way."
I have a poster in my workshop that reads, “You can’t plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”
And what of you and me? Sometimes we talk a great story like the second son and yet there's little or no action.
As a preacher, my first task is not to be interesting, informative, engaging, descriptive, or even humorous. (I hope that my sermons are some of those things some of the time.) But none of those characteristics, as important as they may be, are the ultimate test of Christian preaching. The words spoken in worship need to be transformed into doing. Under the power of the Holy Spirit you, the hearer, receive those words as a message from God himself. But that’s not the end of the sermon. It is when you act on what you have heard. Hearers must become doers. The faith inside the church must be performed in the world. That is the final test of our worship and the hearing of my preaching.
A devotional book may be interesting with lots of stories and illustrations. The author may be very good with words and explain the Bible passage in an informative and entertaining way. But the final test of all those words and the brilliance of the author is whether those words are performed in the daily lives of the reader.
And that is where the difficulty rests. We are so much like that second son in Jesus’ parable. We are polite, obliging and co-operative. We hear the words and say: "Yes, Lord, I would be so pleased to do as you ask," but as often happens, we do little or nothing about it.
How many of us have made rash promises and then faltered in keeping our promises? Perhaps we have made an honest attempt but find ourselves falling short. We often miss the mark of the high standards we set for ourselves. In fact, every one of us can easily identify with the son who told his father, "Yes, I'll go and work for you." But, like him, we get distracted, frustrated, or just "weary of well doing." And the next thing we know, all our good intentions, all of our commitment goes down the drain, and we end up never finishing the job. We all know what it is like to say one thing and then find ourselves doing another. We are a bundle of inconsistencies. We are all guilty. Jesus' little story hits us right between the eyes. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
We can be like a rich young man who was taken to the hospital, critically ill. His condition worsened, and his doctor even told him that he wasn't sure if he'd recover, but they would do all they could.
The man was obviously scared to death, and said to the doctor, "Please, doctor, I don't want to die, I have so much to do yet in life. If you can help me get better, I'll donate $100,000 to the hospital building fund." Fortunately, the young man began to improve and recovered, and a few weeks later was released and went home.
Several months later, the doctor happened to see the man at a social function, and after seeing that he was doing very well with no sign of his former illness, the doctor reminded him of his promise. "You remember you said if you got well, you'd like to donate $100,000, and we could really use that now."
The young man replied, "Wow, if I said that, I must have been really sick!" Another way to consider this parable is to ask the question, "Is what I profess on Sunday carried out on Monday?"
We say "Yes" to God on Sunday Morning: Then end up losing our temper before we even get home; or we end up talking negatively or unflatteringly about our neighbor.
We say “Yes” to God on Sunday Morning: Then a friend tells a joke ridiculing someone that really isn't funny, but because they laugh, we laugh; or we see someone act in a way, which we know to be wrong, but we silently look on, too timid to intervene.
Someone once said, “It’s easy to tell if you are a follower of Jesus or just an admirer: Look in the mirror and see what’s moving – your mouth or your feet.”
You and I know all these texts well. We know that our faith consists of more than words and agreeing with them. We know our faith is one of getting up and doing - but we find it easier to be religious couch potatoes. We can be sure God is not content with a couch potato kind of Christianity.
Let us pray: Dear God, help us be "doers" and not just "hearers." You know our problems and our weaknesses better than we ourselves. In your love and by your power help us in our uncertainty and, in spite of our limitations, make us firm in faith; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pentecost 16 Jonah 3:10-4:11 Philippians 1:21-30 Matthew 20:1-16 Let us pray: Gracious and eternal Father, we come to you this day seeking to understand the ways in which your Spirit moves in our lives. Lord, in these moments, may we be moved by love in our hearts and receive wisdom in our minds. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
For the past few Sundays, we've heard Matthew’s Gospel deal with some real, human emotions. He's dug into our daily lives and hit home with some of his comments. Funny how the Bible can do that more often than we expect it to! Two weeks ago Jesus' words told us how to rebuild broken relationships. Last week Jesus challenged us to forgive other’s time after time after time. And, some of you are probably wondering, "Who picked those readings? Is Fr. Jim trying to tell us something?" (Here, I'd like to say, as the kids do, "Well, DUHHHH!!!" but I won't!)
Let me reassure you, there is not a huge problem lurking in the background that I’m trying to get out in the open. And, while there may be a few of you who are uncomfortable because you suspect you might have been singled out by the sermons the past couple weeks, that has not been my intention. But, if God has spoken to you through the scriptures or through the sermon, if God has touched your heart to rebuild a relationship or to grant forgiveness to someone who has wronged you, then the people who set up our series of readings must have been guided by the Lord's hand for that purpose.
Today our lessons once again zero in on a common theme, one that we've all experienced at some time or another. If you have brothers or sisters, you'll know what I mean. If your school days were anything like mine, you'll know what I mean. If your workplace, your home, your social situation has any kind of inequity, you'll relate to today's texts. Let's back up a bit and put the Gospel message into a story and you'll see what it's talking about.
Ruth and Tom were the oldest two kids in their family. Ruth was 13 when Tom was 6. Then there were a couple younger kids, Bill who was 3 and the baby, Sarah. Ruth had been the apple of her parents' eye for several years before Tom had come along. But, she was just as excited as the rest of the family when her new baby brother had been born. He was fun to hold and he slept a lot so Mom still spent plenty of time with Ruth, reading to her and holding her and playing make-believe. But, as Tom got older, he became more active and took up more of Mom's time. Still, Ruth didn't mind too much because, by that time, she had school and friends to spend time with, books to read and "big girl" chores to occupy her time. Mom still tucked her in at night for a few more years and things went along pretty well.
But, then there was that one Christmas... Ruth was 13. And, as most teenagers do, she had started to examine her place in the family. She was the oldest, so of course she thought she should have more privileges than her little brothers and sister. Her parents thought she should have more responsibility, especially in setting a good example for the little ones. Ruth tried hard to live up to her parents' expectations. She got good grades in school. She tried hard not to talk back to her elders. She helped take care of the little ones and ran interference for them when she thought they might be getting into mischief.
So, that Christmas something just didn't seem to make sense. Ruth had asked for only one gift for Christmas. She knew her family couldn't afford much so she thoughtfully kept her wish list small. All she wanted was a small transistor radio. Not a "boom-box" with a CD player and two tape decks, just a small radio she could listen to as she walked to and from school each day.
And that Christmas morning, when Ruth opened her presents, she was very grateful and full of hugs when she opened up that little box and found just what she had asked for, her very own transistor radio. That is, until Tom -- seven years younger, remember -- opened up a similar-sized box and brought out the very same transistor radio. It wasn't even a different color or a different brand or any less than the radio Ruth had been given! And Ruth's Christmas joy turned into anger, jealousy and disappointment. It just wasn't FAIR!!
Ruth was a lot like the people we've heard about in today's readings. First there's Jonah. You'd think that if God had chosen you for a very special purpose you might rejoice in that honor and get your things all packed up and go off to do what God had asked of you. But, not Jonah. We all have heard the story of how Jonah argued with God about what he was supposed to do. In fact, Jonah went so far as to pack his bags and run away from the task God had set before him. Well, as you'll remember, he didn't succeed in avoiding God's purpose for his life.
In today's reading, Jonah, maybe still a little fishy smelling, is talking to God. He's done what God asked of him. He's gone to the sinful people of Nineveh and told them God wants them to repent of their sins. And they listened to him! And they repented, turned away from their sinful actions. But is Jonah happy? No.
Jonah is angry, jealous, and disappointed. I think he figured if he finally followed through and announced God's wrath on Nineveh that those sinful people wouldn't listen to him, and then he'd get to watch all the fireworks as God destroyed those awful people. I'll bet he was really looking forward to watching those terrible people get what was coming to them. But that's not what happened. Those sinful people repented, and God forgave them their sins, gave them a fresh start. So, Jonah yells at God and stomps off in a tizzy and plants himself out in the middle of nowhere to pout!
Jonah is angry with God. He's jealous of the Ninevites who have received forgiveness. He's disappointed that he won't get to see the Mighty Power of God displayed in the way HE expected to see it. God hadn't acted in the way Jonah expected him to, and Jonah got mad. But did God turn away from him? No, God provided shelter for Jonah. Jonah took the great tent-like bush God created for granted. But, as soon as God took it away, here he was complaining again.
Finally, God told him, "Jonah, you only knew the shelter of the bush for a day and a night. I have known the people of Nineveh since I created them. You didn't create the bush. But I created the people. I choose to love all people -- those who do my will and those who LEARN to love me." I think God was trying to let Jonah know that even HE, the reluctant messenger, was loved. I wonder if Jonah ever figured out that God's love was big enough for all people?
In the gospel, we heard about the day workers who were gathered up in the morning, at midday and in the late afternoon to go work in the vineyards. And, when the day of work was complete each was given a full day's pay -- just what they'd agreed to receive when they'd first signed on for the job.
I'm sure that in this day and age, when we legislate the legal minimum hourly wage and examine our pay stubs to make sure the government isn't taking out more taxes than they ought, we can understand what the all-day workers were complaining about in the parable Jesus told. In fact, we might do more than just grumble as the Gospel says the workers did. We would probably raise a mighty stink! We'd protest; we'd get angry; we'd be jealous; and we'd be disappointed.
Like 13-year old Ruth, whose 6 year-old brother received the very same Christmas gift, we'd probably start out by saying, "It's just not fair!"
No, it certainly isn't. Ruth's parents weren't fair. The landowner wasn't fair. With Jonah and the people of Nineveh, God wasn't fair. LIFE ISN'T FAIR.
The movie Amadeus is the story of the great musical genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The movie portrayed Mozart as an eccentric, almost schizophrenic genius who, without question, was a very gifted musician and composer. Another composer, the devout Salieri, despised Mozart and considered him immature, flippant, arrogant, and obnoxious. Why should Mozart be such a gifted musician and composer when he didn't deserve it? After all, Salieri was the Lord's servant, in obedience to his Savior Jesus Christ, why shouldn't Christ give him this gift instead of Mozart? He was a better person and he deserved it.
In a moment of despair, Salieri feels that Christ has forsaken him, so he removes his crucifix from the wall and burns it. Salieri could not live with God's love and grace. He wanted fairness and justice; he wanted from God what he thought he had worked for, earned, and deserved.
How many times have we said or heard others say, "It isn’t fair!" Well, I've got news for everyone. God isn't fair either! Grace is not fair...it goes beyond fair. If God were fair, the Ninevites would have been destroyed and Jesus would have never died on the cross!
But God chooses to be merciful. God chooses to go beyond our expectations. Even while we're angry, jealous or disappointed with the way life treats us and those we love, God blesses us each and every day.
We have food to eat, clothes to wear, homes to shelter us and time to consider what is going on in the world.
God is there. God's love surrounds everyone -- the angry ones, the jealous ones, the grieving ones, the happy ones, the generous ones, the comforting ones. God's love is there. And God's love is here.
God's love is for those we love. And, beyond expectations, God's love is for those we have a hard time loving. God's love for them isn't even a different color or a different brand or any less than the love we have been given! God is merciful. God isn't JUST fair.
Let us pray: Loving God, you are gracious with a love that surpasses even fairness. Thank you for accepting the little ones as much as the great, those who turn to you at the last hour as well as the laborers who have toiled all their lives. Open us more to the free gifts of your grace, help us accept them with gratitude and appreciate how liberally you give to all. Turn our ways into your ways of love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pentecost 15 Genesis 50:15-21 Romans 14:1-12 Matthew 18:21-35
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, touch our lives with your healing forgiveness, and put a new heart and a right spirit within us, so that we may truly love you and faithfully serve you, to the glory of your name. Amen.
Our appointed Gospel for today is once again about forgiveness -------Hmmmmm -----must be important.
Two little brothers, Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick, and tears and bitter words followed. Charges and accusations were still being exchanged as mother prepared them for bed. The mother instructed, "Now James, before you go to bed you’re going to have to forgive your brother." James was thoughtful for a few moments, and then he replied, "Well OK. I’ll forgive him tonight, but if I’m still alive in the morning, he’d better look out!
The problem is that we are forgiving only to a point. Unlike God, whose forgiveness is unlimited, ours has limitations. The more times we have been burned the less likely we are to forgive. Peter was looking for boundaries. "Give me a rule to follow or some formula." We like rules and formulas because then we can say it is the law.
Jesus, however, does not let us off the hook. For God’s forgiveness has no boundaries or conditions. But, 77 times seems absurd. What this story illustrates is that it is virtually impossible to forgive, again and again. That is why we need salvation. That is why we need God. That is why we need God’s forgiveness because it is impossible for us to be forgiving toward others all the time.
Forgiveness is not easy. But I wonder if we really know what it means to forgive? The Greek word for "forgive" in the New Testament means "to send off, to release, to hurl, to let go." One time I saw a golfer, driving balls into the woods. I wondered why he would waste so many balls. He said they were all "shag" balls. Shag balls are golf balls that have slices in them and they aren’t any good for normal play. He drove them as far as he could into the woods with no thought of retrieving them. He hurled them away. They were gone, out of sight, lost forever.
This is what it means to forgive. To literally, "hurl away" or "let go" of the shag balls in our lives. The problem is too many of our shag balls have elastic strings attached to them. We give them the old "heave ho" only to have them come back at a later time.
Forgiveness is not saying the offense never happened. It did. Forgiveness is not saying that everything’s okay, it isn’t. Forgiveness is not saying we no longer feel the pain of the offense. We do. Forgiveness is saying, I experienced the pain, but I am willing to let go and no longer blame the offender.
It’s not easy to forgive people when they make mistakes. To compensate we like to get even, or at the very least, refuse to deal with people who are not fair. When we withhold forgiveness, we live with the myth that we are in control. At some point it may come back to haunt us.
Peter was willing to forgive. However, Peter wanted to put a limit on forgiveness. In other words, his forgiveness was conditional. Jesus wanted Peter and the others to understand that “true” forgiveness opens our lives to the unlimited realm of God’s kingdom and has no limits. “How often should I forgive?” Peter asked. “Not seven times but seventy times seven,” Jesus replied. What Jesus meant by that is that we are not to keep track. In other words, forgiveness is to be unlimited.
In Jesus’ parable the servant had a huge debt but was forgiven by the king when he cried for mercy. “Have patience with me and I will pay back everything I owe,” he cried. The king then forgave his debt. But, that same servant was unwilling to forgive someone who owed him money. To him he showed no mercy and had him thrown in prison.
Unfortunately, the chain of forgiveness had been broken. Others cried foul and reported to the king what had taken place. When the king heard what had happened, he was angered and had the servant thrown in prison and had him tortured. Since the servant was unwilling to forgive, the king withdrew the forgiveness that he had given. Then there was social chaos. No one had been shown mercy.
When we are unwilling to forgive many lives are adversely affected. This is not what God expects of us. God expects God’s disciples to forgive unconditionally because a spirit of forgiveness creates peace and harmony throughout society, in families, in neighborhoods and even in churches.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we those who trespass against us,” Jesus taught. On the one hand we ask God to forgive us, and on the other hand we must offer forgiveness to others.
One time a young man borrowed the family car without permission, knowing he could have it home and safely in the garage before his father found out. He hadn't reckoned on getting rear-ended at the second intersection he came to. Since there was no way to conceal the damage, he parked the car and closed the garage door, then spent an evening agonizing over how to deal with his father when he arrived home. When his dad walked in, the young man flashed a look of terror.
He told his father everything, complete with a profuse apology. His father walked with the son to the garage and looked long and hard and silently at the damage. Then he said, "Insurance will cover it. It wouldn't have covered the broken trust between you and me, however. Fortunately your apology took care of that." "Can you ever forgive me, Dad?" "I have already." "You have learned your lesson. Forget about it." A week later the son, still guilt-driven, came to his father and said, "Dad, in case they raise our insurance rates because of the accident, I'm willing to earn the money to pay the difference in the premiums." His father didn't even look up from his newspaper as he said, simply, "What accident?" "How often should I forgive?” Peter asked. “Seventy seven,” Jesus said.
Let us Pray: Merciful Father, your Son has taught us to seek reconciliation with those who have sinned against us and, in doing so, to experience the healing of our own hearts. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to put into action what he has taught us. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Ezekiel 33:7-11 Romans 13:8-14 Matthew 18:15-20 Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, touch our lives with your healing forgiveness, and put a new heart and a right spirit within us, so that we may truly love you and faithfully serve you, to the glory of your name. Amen.
Eighty-nine relatives of Simon Wiesenthal had been murdered by the Nazis. He became a Nazi hunter and spent the rest of his life locating and prosecuting Nazi’s after the war and wrote a book that began with a true experience he had while he himself was a concentration camp prisoner. One day he was yanked out of a work detail and taken up a back stairway to a dark hospital room. A nurse led him into the room, then left him alone with a figure wrapped in white, lying on a bed. The figure was a badly wounded German soldier, whose entire face was covered with bandages.
With a trembling voice, the German made a kind of confession to Wiesenthal. He told about the brutal measures his S.S. unit had taken against Jews. And then he told of the terrible atrocities that he himself had committed against the Jews.
Several times Wiesenthal tried to leave the room, but each time the ghost-like figure would reach out and beg him to stay. Finally, after 2 hours, the soldier told Wiesenthal why he had been summoned. He then said, "I know that what I am asking is almost too much for you. But without your answer I cannot die in peace." He asked for forgiveness for all the Jews he had killed.
Wiesenthal sat in silence for some time. He stared at the man’s bandaged face. At last, he stood up and left the room without saying a word. He left the soldier in torment, unforgiven.
This true story about Wiesenthal might be considered by some to be an extreme case, however, I believe this scenario is not unfamiliar to us. To forgive someone the hurt they have caused us, can be one of the toughest things that a Christian is called to do. There are people who have fallen out with family members, who are no longer talking to one-time-friends or who have dropped their connection with a congregation because they have found it impossible to forgive. Like Simon Wiesenthal, the hurt is so enormous. It would mean giving up too much to go to those who have hurt them and seek a way to be reconciled to that person. It is just too hard to forgive and put the hurt behind them and settle the differences between them.
Forgiveness is counterculture. What I mean by that is that forgiveness goes against what is practiced in our society. Remember the wave of attacks on Moslems, and how mosques in the USA and here were destroyed by fire because of what had happened on September 11, 2001. Revenge, an eye for an eye, racism and prejudice are the ways our culture deals with hurt and those who offend us.
On May 13, 1981, people all over the world, were shocked by the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul recovered from his wound, and he stunned the world when, on Christmas day, he made a visit to Rome’s Rabbibia Prison to see the man who had attempted to assassinate him. The white-robed Pope and jean-clad terrorist huddled in the prison cell for 20 minutes, talking in low voices that could not be heard. When he emerged John Paul explained, "I spoke to a brother whom I have pardoned." The headline the next week of Time Magazine was "Why forgive?" It was as if the world could not come to terms with the prospect that it is possible to forgive someone like this assassin.
Forgiveness goes against the grain of our human nature. If someone offends us or causes us hurt in some way, it’s natural for us to want to break off our relationship with that person. And so we see people dropping out of congregations and clubs, children no longer talking to parents, neighbors ignoring their neighbors and so on. For these people there is no question about who should take steps to restore friendship – the person who has caused the offense. That’s the natural human way we deal with disagreements.
But Jesus says that Christians have a special responsibility when there is a falling out. It is the duty of the one who has been offended to renew the relationship that has been damaged. And this is where it gets hard. It is illogical and unfair to expect the one who has been hurt to make the first move to restore their friendship. After all that person is the one who has offended me, he/she should come to me and own up to what they have done and ask me to forgive them. What is more, it is difficult to go and speak to someone when I am upset and hurt by what that person has done.
Peter once was concerned about how many times he should keep on forgiving someone. He is thinking that there must be a limit to the number of times he should have to forgive someone who repeatedly hurts and offends him. Jesus tells Peter that there is no end to the number of times we should seek a renewal of friendship – reconciliation.
It’s tough to forgive, isn’t it? And yet, that’s exactly what Jesus commands us to do here. We are not told to do it if we feel like it. We are told to take the initiative and attempt to work out reconciliation with the person who has offended us.
Forgiveness means letting go of our hurt pride, our need to strike back – to take revenge (which seems to be our natural instinct) and do what is illogical and ever so hard. It means making our relationship with that other person the most important thing in our lives. Jesus rates reconciliation as one of the most important things we can do. He said, "If you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God"
It’s even harder to go to someone and seek reconciliation when you have offended someone unintentionally and they are upset over something you are completely unaware of. It’s easy to say – that’s his/her problem. This is where we really need the Spirit’s help so that we can let the light of Christ’s forgiveness shine through us and make a difference to the lives of others.
And because forgiveness can be so hard, this is a matter for prayer. We need to enlist God's help to overcome our sinful attitudes and to be more like Christ. We need to pray that we would have a greater concern for the welfare of others. We need God’s forgiveness for the many times when we let our sinful nature take control and we let the pain and the hurt continue.
When Jesus tells us to go to the person who has offended us, this puts us in a unique position. The responsibility is placed upon us to take to that person the healing redemptive Word of God, and in love, without gossiping, without malice, or any other hidden motives, cover the sin of the other with love and forgiveness.
God grant that we may forgive one another just as God has generously forgiven us. Let us Pray: Merciful Father, your Son has taught us to seek reconciliation with those who have sinned against us and, in doing so, to experience the healing of our own hearts. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to put into action what he has taught us. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.