It’s hard to miss the message in today’s lectionary readings. There are examples in each one, building to the most instructive: the story of the servant who successfully begged the king to forgive him a huge debt and then turned around and refused to forgive someone who owed him a much smaller amount. (MT 18:21-35) There are so many familiar lines in that passage, calling us to compassion and forgiveness for one another. Can you imagine Jesus suggesting that we forgive “seventy times seven times?” (aka as many times as we fall short.) Think about it though.
Is there anyone you love enough to forgive every time that person fails to measure up? Isn’t that what it takes to sustain a relationship? Is there any one of us who hasn’t been hurt or disappointed at least once that we can remember by a person we have loved? If we do forgive, doesn’t that strengthen the relationship? If we don’t, the transgression usually seems to hang onto us and deepen until the relationship is ruptured and it becomes impossible to remedy.
Nobody would say it’s easy to forgive serious injury but most of us, at least, would agree that forgiveness is the best way to heal. Jesus suggests that way today, saying: “Love one another as I have loved you.” With him as the model, who of us can resist a love like that?