Today’s scripture was on forgiveness. Peter questions Jesus on how many times must he forgive someone. “As many as 7 times?” Peter questions. Jesus’s answer, “I say to you not seven times, but 77 times.” Jesus continues on with a parable of how a master forgave the debt of a servant. When the servant went on with his day, he found one of his own servants who owed him money. He choked and scolded the servant. His attitude was one of stubbornness instead of “paying forward” the forgiveness that he was given. The inflexibility he showed a fellow servant was hard to swallow especially after he was just offered forgiveness from his master.
God gives us forgiveness all the time. He grants us complete access to Him even through our sinfulness. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness.
Yet, we find it so hard to forgive one another? Why is that?
As anxieties run high during the next few months of quarantine, we have to remember that everyone handles stress in very different ways. While some may be kind and patient, others may be on edge and make cutting remarks. We still need to forgive and be patient with one another. For the first time, we are all in the same boat. We are all suffering and worried. We are all fearful and anxious. We are all tired and facing the unknown. This stress may show outwardly with tears, with shouts of anger, or even with impatience of others.
Yesterday, my sister told me of a grocery store dilemma she had. She was waiting in a long line with her cart of stuff, when she realized she forgot orange juice. The line was pretty deep, and the orange juice was just down the aisle. She ran and got a carton, and came back to her cart which had been pushed aside by another customer. The customer scolded my sister for shopping while saving her place in line.
Teaching has been rough lately. Finding time to be with my family who are now all home and balancing online school life is stressful. Some mornings I wake up and just wish I could crawl under my bed and go back to sleep. Some mornings I just wish the governor would cancel school for the rest of year, so at least I would know what to plan for each day. My spring break will be working to come up with creative ways for my students to learn at home. My email is blowing up with messages all day long with questions and concerns. Sometimes these questions are nice and understanding, and sometimes not so nice.
I tend to get frustrated with the President and his lack of communication. I get so angry that Congress cannot figure out how to handle this financial crisis. It makes me infuriated that we cannot all work together to solve this huge problem. My first thought always goes to… it is all about politics, not the people.
Yesterday, our church closed down completely – no Mass at all. The fact that this virus is now taking away my one peaceful day of the week made me want to explode. Are we caving in to this thing or are we being safe?
This scripture today opens my eyes to the beauty of forgiveness. When we don’t forgive, our hearts are not completely available to God’s grace. Our stubbornness hardens our hearts, and we cannot see the beauty that God is offering us. Some days God makes it easy for us to see his beauty. During the next few months, as days become weeks, and weeks become months, it is going to become increasingly difficult to see the beauty that God is offering us. All of us need to do a little housekeeping in our hearts, so we are open to some rainbows along this long journey. Forgiveness is one way to open our hearts. Confessing our sins is another. Praying for God’s mercy and constant care is invaluable.
People will struggle to see good. I do. If we all want to be witnesses to God’s beauty during this trying time, we have to begin to forgive each other. Not just 7 times, but 77 times. Maybe even 777 times….
Watch for some sign of God’s grace today – through another person, through a problem you solve at work, or maybe just through forgiveness.