April 13, 2008

The Eighth Time

Then Peter approaching asked Him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy times seven times." --Matthew 18:21-22

How many times has someone come to you and asked you to forgive an offense they commited against you? Maybe it was a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a spouse.

"I'm sorry, I will never use again"
"I'm clean now, can I crash with you for a while until I get on my feet?"
"Please don't fire me, I'm sorry I got caught surfing the web on the clock again"
"I'm sorry I yelled at you"
"I'm sorry I lied to you"
"Yes, I did sleep with her, I'm sorry. It will never happen again. Please take me back"

Regardless of how many times they asked for forgiveness, did you give it? Once, twice, never, always?

If you are like most of us, maybe you forgave a couple of times but when it became clear to you that nothing was going to change you quit forgiving. Maybe you walked away. Maybe you told that person you never want to see them again.

We are human. We are not God. I'm so thankful that those who try to limit Jesus to being only a prophetic human are wrong. Think about it. If Jesus put a limit on how often he would forgive an offense against Him, we would be doomed. If His mercy were as limited as ours is, we would be completely without hope.

Humans have the need to protect themselves. We may forgive a person for the umpteenth time but we may also decide that we cannot have that person in our lives. Just imagine if God told us that He did not want us. Not matter what we did or how many times we went to Confession for forgiveness, God said "No way. I don't care what Cathy does anymore. I'm done with her"

It's so easy to ask God for forgiveness. "Easy?" you say, incredulously. Yes, forgiveness is possible by a simple formula a contrite heart and a resolve to change our lives. You can ask as many times as you want and the Lord in the bottomless depths of His mercy is ready and willing to forgive us.

I think due to our limited human understanding, God can seem remote. Because of our flawed perception, I think that it is easier to approach the Lord for forgiveness than it is a human. You KNOW in your heart that the Lord will forgive (well, you should know). Who can predict with any certainty how a flawed human will react? But, we must try to mend things with our brother too. Not to do so, is sinful as well.

If you have offended the Lord, don't delay, ask for forgiveness. Operators (priests) are standing by.


Blogger Anna B. said...

Thank you, I needed that.

April 12, 2008 10:09 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

"If you have offended the Lord, don't delay, ask for forgiveness. Operators (priests) are standing by."

I like that - wouldn't that have been cool if Billy Graham had confessors at his crusades for all the people coming forward? Altho I think he did have priests or Catholic counselors available for Catholics in the audience.

April 13, 2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Terry: With respect to Mr. Graham, I think it would be even cooler if the Holy Father, while he's here really gives an impassioned Homily or speech on Confession and Forgiveness and asks anyone who feels the need for either to come forward. Hundreds of priests are waiting at stations to hear Confessions. A multitude (one of my favorite words) receive Absolution and return Home.

He's a man who could do it. I feel it in my heart. I will pray on this.

April 13, 2008 10:55 AM  

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