Sunday, June 13, 2010

On forgiveness

Sunday -June 13, 2010

This was at one of those times that our PPC organized some pastoral talks in our parish. I was in the audience listening seated beside our parish priest who was next in line to deliver a talk. While we were listening to the current speaker, the sound system suddenly malfunctioned. Our sound technicians were having a difficult time fixing the problem, which led our parish priest to quip: "Father forgive them for it seems they do not know what they are doing".
This Sunday's Gospel (Lk 7:36-50) is about forgiveness. In the narrative, the Pharisee named Simon was obviously skeptical of Jesus' divinity, as he thought to himself : “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”. As Jesus responded with the parable of the forgiven debts, the Pharisee must have immediately realized that Jesus can read thoughts, and He knows when we are truly repentant. Jesus forgave the woman sinner in spite of her many sins, because of her sincerity and "because of her great love". She wept kneeling at Jesus' feet.

In the book "The only Necessary Thing", Henri Nouwen says "Forgiveness has two qualities: one is to allow yourself to be forgiven, and the other is to forgive others. The first quality is harder than the second.". Obviously, the Pharisee has a big problem with the first quality. Actually, he has at least three problems. One is that he refused to acknowledge Jesus as a prophet. Second is that he refused to acknowledge his own sins.The third is refusing to acknowledge Jesus' power to forgive. There is also a fourth: he apparently thought Jesus can not read his thoughts. Among these, his third problem may be the greatest. I have read C.S. Lewis in his book "Mere Christianity" (pp 54-55), address this problem:

"...among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God...One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did."

"He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin."
"Lord forgive the wrong that I have done."

(and make me realize there are many)

Have a blessed Sunday, everyone.

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王藝文 said...
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