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  • Writer's pictureJenny Snarski

Be Forgiven and Forgive

One of the phrases I have unabashedly preached as a parent is: There’s nothing we can’t work through, as long as you’re honest – with yourself and with us.

I have lived this from both sides – as a daughter in some pretty messy situations and as a parent of a teen and younger children. My husband and I have even lived this dynamic in our marriage when there’s been an issue needing to be addressed that we’d both rather brush aside.

In whatever state or stage of life we face this fear of being rejected in our sin and vulnerability, because surely, we have felt guilty and shamed by our actions (or inaction) and likely judgment from others. But there truly is a bigger picture when we keep God and his merciful love in the frame. The first part zeroes in on only today’s first reading and loses the richness of the fuller reality. The saddest aspect of this experience is that we let fear and insecurity shut out the fullness of truth and beauty gushing all over the rest of the readings, especially in Psalm 103: “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.”

We are admonished to bless his holy name, to remember his benefits, acknowledge healing and gift of redemption. We are told he doesn’t keep his wrath forever, does not deal with us according to our sins and called to wonder at the breadth of this love and compassion being told, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us.”

These are likely verses we’ve heard countless times – but what do they really mean to us? How have they made any real difference in my own life?

What I see happening in the second reading and Gospel is like a formula for living out this honesty and coherence. Of standing in the truth of our identity as children of God as well as people who do sin and cut ourselves off from the Father and our brothers and sisters.

St. Paul redirects our gaze from inward focused back to THE center point – to live for the Lord, die for the Lord, to be his in this world and the next – Jesus Christ as the hinge around which our entire existence revolves – and through whom we are able to live forgiveness and mercy with each other. This is how his Kingdom can be established, the bondage of sin and its vicious cycles broken. When we allow God to love and heal us in our mistakes and regrets, from there healing can flow into all other relationships and we experience effective reconciliation with God, others, ourselves and even come to more peaceful terms with our fallen nature itself.

Clearly the servant whose debt the king forgave did not approach him with honesty and humility because he turned around and acted out the opposite of what had just been offered to him. It is a perfect example of the adage “You can’t give what you don’t have.” If he had approached the king asking for his accounts to be reconsidered with true self-knowledge and without fear, I can only imagine the story would have progressed differently. He would have worked through his own issues with more grace, and certainly been able to extend that to all in his sphere of influence; which is the invitation that Jesus holds out for us today…

To be alive in the Lord, in this world and the next,

The path is not to hide from sin, revealing only what we do best;

But forgive, as He, and be forgiven, from the east unto the west.

To live as children of one King, divine and merciful Father, live for the Son,

Healer, redeemer. Do bless his name, remember his grace,

to be healed and crowned, as one before his Face.

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