Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stumbling and Forgiveness

Jesus said to his disciples, "Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive."
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
"Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'" Luke 17:1-10 

Being human, we all stumble and fall. We give in to urges and egos. We let our compulsions and our greed overtake our sense of who we really are. Those who are put on pedestals fall farther. They begin to believe what people say about them, and they think that they are more holy, more talented, and closer to God. We are all human and we will all stumble. Forgiveness is the only way we get beyond our fallen places, our humanity that is so broken and so in need of healing. Seeking forgiveness and granting forgiveness is a gift we get from God, even in our most fallen moments.

Jesus is instructing his followers about their daily lives. They could get grandiose visions of  their leadership and their power. And Jesus would have them focus on humility and forgiveness. I remember an old friend of my father's saying to me, "the point of embarrassment is the point of redemption." When we are fully human we can be fully forgiven. Our stumbling and broken nature is a given. And God would have us know, that despite our hideous and regular falls, our selfishness and erring, there is still more forgiveness and redemption, still more love to go around.

Today I ask God to help me forgive all those who have led others astray. May our broken humanity meet others and hear always the need for asking for forgiveness, and in return forgiving others. May we always bend toward the weak and fallen, being agents of love, lifting others up in their most desperate times.

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