The Verbs of Lent: 5

Jeremiah 31:31-34The 5th Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 22, 2015

“For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins . . .” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Forgive“For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins . . .”

Two questions stalk me in the early mornings before any first word of a new lectionary-inspired musing is typed. These questions are simple and unsettling:

Can you say anything new?

Will you be honest?

Since that honesty question has been admitted, I’d better be honest. Usually, there is an “I” in those two queries rather than a “you.” Can I say anything new? Will I be honest? It is merely me questioning myself. It is no more than an odd, banal moment of a writer’ and believer’s self-awareness when seeking to start and finish a faithful sentence. And yet there are enough mornings when an unexpected you—not I—anchors the phrase. Dare I call that unbidden you another voice; perhaps a divine nudge, a Holy whisper with a Holy urgency? Is it a challenge to be, well, fully me? Continue reading →

490 Times (or More)

Matthew 18:21-35 – The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, September 14, 2014

“Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me…’” (Matthew 18:21)

The “Parable of the Unforgiving Servant,” which is the subtitle used in my old New Revised Standard Version, is easily understood.

(And maybe unsettling.)

The disciple Peter asked Jesus how many times he must forgive another.

ForgiveNot surprisingly, Jesus told Peter a parable. In the parable, Person A forgave Person B. Did it matter that Person A was the “master” and Person B was the “servant?” While it added detail and tension, I’m not sure it’s important. One forgave another. The story continued, becoming more complicated. Person B, having felt the joy of forgiveness, was next seen confronting Person C.

Person C owed Person B.

B didn’t forgive C. Indeed, B did bad things to C.

A, clearly in the loop of information, learned what B did to C.

As quick as you can say a-b-c, Person B, once forgiven, once the recipient of compassion, was tossed into the slammer by A.

(Whew. Bad things do happen to bad people!)

Christianity, from the earliest Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions through today’s rise of non-denominational churches, has emphasized the healing power of forgiveness. But what about other religions? The Qur’an, in Surah 7:199, implored: Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant. The Buddha invited: To understand everything is to forgive everything.

Isn’t forgiveness central to every faith tradition?

(Please forgive me if you think I’m wrong!) Continue reading →