Most Rev. Dianne Sullivan
September 17, 2017
Forgiveness: Difficult for most but essential for each.
Jesus says to Peter, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
Forgiveness of oneself and forgiveness of others is essential to our soul, our spirit, our mental, emotional and physical health, yet oh so difficult.
When we don’t forgive or we can’t forgive it is as if we are carrying around a sack of rocks in our heart. The sack gets heavier with time and it becomes more difficult for forgiveness to become our reality.
In the story in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus compares God to the King, who cleverly asks of his servant to be accountable. We ask the same of ourselves, to be accountable, to take responsibility for our actions, for how we have loved, for our sense of mercy and forgiveness. The servant is frightened because he knows the King’s power and he pleads his case to the king. The king is moved and effected by this man and his plight.
I am taken by this. What this speaks of is that we effect God. Our pleas, our prayers, our aspirations, our dreams, our concerns, effect God.
We move God. That touches me deeply.
The King forgives the entire debt. My sense is that Jesus was speaking of the enormous gracious forgiving nature of God;
that God is magnanimous, neither narrow nor stingy;
that God is wide and abundant in every conceivable and inconceivable manner.
God is glorious!
As Julian of Norwich, the English mystic speaks of “All will be well, in every manner of good, all will be well.”
It follows that we are to be as wide in forgiveness and love as the King. Jesus speaks frequently of the necessity to love one another.
He speaks of love with authority, as if every fiber of his being,
his DNA is made of love. He says, “Please love one another, just as I have loved you.”
Without love we cannot thrive.
Study of infants in World War II, clustered around the nurses station
When we forgive the act of love is our currency.
In June of 2015 a horrendous shooting of nine innocent people took place in Charleston, South Carolina at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. This was a tragedy that was unspeakable.
What I remember distinctly was the heartfelt sentiments of profound forgiveness from family members.
I watched and listened with astonishment as family members overcome with grief forgave this young man.
It was as if each instinctively understood that without forgiveness their grief would be locked in their soul.
Only God’s unconditional love pouring through each individual can account for such active and dynamic love.
Back to our gospel, when the others who served the king witnessed the one individual who could not or would not forgive the debt of the other, they understood this wrong-doing. So as a group they acted. They too had power to report what they witnessed, just as we do. We all have the power to stand up, reach out and declare injustice when we see it.
The story of Mrs. Rosa Parks is the story of woman, along with countless others who stood up to segregation in Montgomery Alabama. The truth is she had been activist for years, along with countless others. Everyone had a hand in reversing the segregation of the south, everyone leads
Each one us can feel like we don’t count or matter, lethargic and aimless. But like our first reading we have a place, if when we reach out, there is someone there, we will be found. There is every reason to believe that we will be ok. We are not alone. Loneliness can be corrosive, but oh so human. Darkness can blind us but always we will be found…That is our greatest responsibility as human beings to find one another; to bring comfort, joy, relief, hope, to forgive, to easy one another troubles and to lead with love.
We are like a symphony; each one of us has a melody, a piece to play and it’s glorious!