Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Seventy-Seven Times

Peter came and said to Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, `Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart." Matthew 18:21–35

All of our Native communities suffer from the lasting effects of everything from intentional genocide to broken treaties as well as land theft and all forms of neglect. Our federal and state governments have been responsible for horrible things over many generations. It is hard to forgive, especially when it has caused inter-generational trauma, distrust of other tribes and self-abuse in many forms. The work of forgiveness is especially important among our peoples, as we find our leaders and people need much healing. Forgiveness, even in the face of society's ignorance and continued abuse, can be hard won, but frees us from being dominated any longer.

Jesus answers Peter's question about forgiveness by telling a story of how the Creator loves and forgives. God loves and forgives constantly, always and invites us to do likewise. We humans can cherish our anger and our hurt so long that it gets in the way of thriving. We are invited today to forgive and let go so that we can be the people and the blessings that the Creator made us to be.

Today I ask God to help me let go of anger and to forgive all of the people and situations I have hurt me. May we demonstrate forgiveness so that they world might see God's love shining through us.

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