What did Jesus do for us while he was here on earth?
What would your answer be?
Many would say he died for us or he died for our sins.
Personally, I believe he did much more than that.
My personal answer is that Jesus showed us how to live, how to love, and how to die.
In his message to us in today’s scripture readings he emphasizes one of the most important ingredients in both living and loving and that ingredient is, to forgive. As we know failing to forgive is associated with hate and vengefulness and in contrast, forgiving is associated with healthy love and has positive impact on our physical health, mental health and spiritual health. All of this message is reinforced in today second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans in which he reminds us that we don’t live or die for ourselves. In other words, what we do, especially in forgiveness affects not just ourselves but as well affects many others.
Each of us likely has an instance or two where we have failed to forgive or in which our request for forgiveness has not been accepted and I am no exception. My second son, who lives in Colorado refuses to communicate with me for things he believes I did during my last visit to him. He detailed those things in a letter to me but none of those things which he described to me actually happened. I apologized for what he thought I did without going into details and he still refuses to communicate with me. I send him a “thinking about you” ard every month but he still refuses to communicate with me. I don’t know what else to do.
When we forgive many good things happen, the first of which is peace, peace of mind and soul for that person doing the forgiving and as well for that person being forgiven. And when we don’t forgive, multiple bad things are likely to happen, things like hate, anger and vengefulness. When we do forgive, we are transformed by the love of God so that we can show that unconditional agape love for others.
Logically, forgiving is the way to go, in that it is the healthy way for us by improving our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. In contrast being unwilling to forgive is associated with hate and vengefulness.
Jesus emphasizes that forgiveness is not just a one-time thing, nor is it to be limited to three times as specified in the Old Testament, nor is it to be only extended to 7 times as Peter suggested but rather 77 times, in other words, and unlimited times. In today’s gospel parable, the King was willing to forgive a servant a debt of 50 million silver coins, the equivalent of 150,000 years wages and in turn the servant was not willing to forgive a fellow servant 100 silver coins, the equivalent of 100 days wages. As a result the King withdrew his conditional offer of forgiveness.
Here is a little story which exemplifies a simple conditional forgiveness in today’s world and it goes like this:
“Two little brothers, Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick and tears along with bitter words followed. Charges and accusations were still being exchanged as their mother prepared them for bed. She said, “Now boys, what would happen if either of you died tonight and you never had the opportunity again for forgiving one another? James spoke up, “Well, OK, I’ll forgive him tonight, but if we’re both alive in the morning, he’s better look out.”
That may be good little boy logic and it may be seen as good adult logic by some but it isn’t in line with God’s definition of valid forgiveness as clarified in today’s scripture. God is all forgiving as contained in Jesus description of how to live and how to love as he demonstrates in his life here on earth.