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Why Forgiveness Matters
The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Old Testament: Exodus 14:19-31
Epistle: Romans 14:1-12
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
Old Testament: Genesis 50:15-21
Psalter: Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13
Epistle: Romans 14:1-12
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
God of freedom, you brought your people out of slavery with a mighty hand. Deliver us from our captivity to pride and indifference to the needs and gifts of others, that we may be ready to love as you have loved us, and to give even as we have received. Amen. (Revised Common Lectionary)
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if my brother or sister sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him, and, as he could not pay, the lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:21-35).
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”—Katherine Ponder
Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel. It is not merely a gesture of absolving someone for their wrongdoings, but rather a powerful act of releasing oneself from the shackles of resentment, anger, and pain.
At its core, forgiveness matters because it liberates us from the burdens of emotional baggage. Holding onto grudges and nursing feelings of resentment can be emotionally exhausting, causing stress and anxiety to persist. By forgiving, we give ourselves the gift of emotional freedom. The act of letting go, although not always easy, allows us to break free from the cycle of negativity that keeps us tethered to the past. Forgiveness becomes a pathway to healing, promoting mental, and emotional well-being.
In the realm of relationships, forgiveness holds the power to mend and strengthen bonds that have been strained by misunderstandings, conflicts, or betrayals. It acknowledges our shared humanity, recognizing that we all make mistakes and are capable of growth. When we forgive, we demonstrate compassion and empathy, creating space for growth, learning, and transformation for both ourselves and others. Trust can be rebuilt, bridges can be mended, and relationships can flourish once again.
Furthermore, forgiveness plays an integral role in fostering societal harmony. On a larger scale, societies that prioritize forgiveness are more likely to experience reduced levels of animosity and conflict. The cycle of revenge and retaliation can be broken, giving rise to opportunities for dialogue, understanding, and peaceful resolution. In this way, forgiveness becomes a cornerstone for building a more just and compassionate world.
It’s important to acknowledge that forgiveness is not synonymous with condoning harmful actions or enabling further mistreatment. It’s about finding a way to move forward while setting healthy boundaries and seeking justice when necessary. Moreover, forgiveness is a personal journey that requires introspection and a willingness to let go of resentment, which may take time and effort. It is a gift we give ourselves, ultimately benefiting our own emotional well-being.
Forgiveness matters because it holds the potential to transform lives, mend relationships, and promote societal harmony. By embracing forgiveness, we unlock the door to healing, growth, and a brighter future. It is a choice that empowers us to rise above our pain and resentment, fostering empathy, compassion, and understanding in our interactions with others. As we embrace forgiveness, we cultivate a more resilient and harmonious world for ourselves and generations to come.
And forgiveness is what Jesus would do.
PRAYER: O God of Joseph and all his brothers, your forgiveness transcends whatever wrong exists between us. Grant us the courage to forgive others, and to practice reconciliation by the kindness of our speaking, the sharing of our resources, and the honoring of your desire for good. Amen. (Revised Common Lectionary)
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