Saturday, September 10, 2011

God's Forgiveness



May my words be in the Name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit - Amen.

9/11 seems an appropriate day to be talking about forgiveness. As Christians, we talk about forgiveness a lot. It's part of the Lord's Prayer after all, something most of us will say everyday, if not several times everyday. And in today's Gospel reading, we hear about it in the context of the unmerciful servant.

The servant is forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents. His response? To demand repayment of a debt of 100 denarii. It sounds pathetic.

But think about his in context. A denarius was a day's wages for those sitting there listening to Jesus. 100 denarii was not a trivial sum - it's around 4 months wages. To put that in the context of the average Irish industrial wage, it would be about €14,000. But that doesn't really give the full flavour of the context. Think about what 4 months wages would mean to someone who was really poor, someone who lived day to day in a time and place where there was no social security to turn to. It is not a pathetic sum ... it is huge money ... more than they could hope to save in the course of a lifetime ...

But look at what his master forgives him by comparison - 10,000 talents. Now a talent was worth over 5,000 denarii ... more than a labourer would earn in 15 years ... which makes 10,000 talents worth more than one could earn in 150,000 years ... many thousands of lifetimes ...

Now forget all about the money ... Jesus isn't really talking about money at all ... he's talking about forgiveness ... the fact that God forgives us ... and that we are called to forgive others ... and no matter how grave the offence the other person has committed against us, it is trivial compared to the forgivness we receive ...

maybe that's why it's so hard for us to forgive others ... because deep down, we don't think we're so bad ... but that is not what Jesus is saying here ... he's saying that we are all like that servant ... we each owe God a debt so great, because he has forgiven us so much, that if we were to live a thousand lifetimes, or even 10,000 lifetimes ... we couldn't pay it off. Maybe that's hard to hear, but that doesn't it make it any less true. God has shown us forgiveness and mercy beyond all measure ... and so we therefore must show others forgiveness also ... not because what they have done to us is so little ... but because what we have been forgiven has been so much more ...

It's not easy ... it takes hard work ... mainly hard work by way of prayer ... I don't find it easy to forgive others ... I can only imagine how hard it must be for those who lost loved ones in 9/11 ... or have suffered in their lives as a result of this or other terrorist attacks ... and so that is why we must pray ... pray that God will give us the Grace to forgive ... so that we might be worthy of the forgiveness he shows us ... something that I pray for myself, for you, and for all God's children ... Amen.

Sermon notes: 11 September 2011

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