The gospel text, Matthew 18:21-35 is the classic text of Peter asking Jesus how often he should forgive a brother or sister who sins against him. Jesus turns everything over and gives us the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, which requires us when talking about forgiveness to refocus our understanding. We are not primarily the one sinned against, and can therefore dole out forgiveness as we choose. We are first and foremost the one forgiven. That is the primary lens with which we should view forgiveness. The stakes are ratcheted up a little higher on this day when we also remember the 10th anniversary of 9-11.
Here is an excerpt:
And I fear that with this parable there are those who are looking at the attacks and speaking about a forgiveness that lets attackers off scot free. This is not, by the way, me calling out for vengeance, but justice. I refused to rejoice when bin Laden was taken down. But the question of forgiveness implies repentance and transformation. We cannot simply throw out some blanket statement of forgiveness without doing some work first.Read the whole thing here.
Forgiveness is hard work. We have to pray for it after all. We have various notions about forgiveness that are in fact wrong. Forgiveness is not just about forgetting and letting things go. Forgiveness is not about hearing the words “I’m sorry” and replying with “Oh, it’s okay.” We have tried those approaches in other heinous acts and they did not work out so well.
Or listen to it.