In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

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How often, in this life, have you been wronged? Or, how often have you felt like you were wronged? How did you react? How long did it take for the ache of that feeling to go away? Perhaps some of us, even now, are in middle of that situation – having truly been wronged, or feeling like we’ve been misused or mistreated.

The Gospel reading this morning presents to us two situations, each of which contains a man wronged by another. In the Gospel, the particular wrong had to do with money, but we can make this apply to any situation of our lives. What we really see in the Gospel are two different ways of handling a situation where you feel like you’ve been wronged by another. There is the way of justice, or the way of love. The way of the law, or the way of Christ. The servant who had his fellow servant jailed because of the debt he owed had, in fact, done nothing technically wrong. He had behaved in accordance with the law. He sought justice – for the wrong he had suffered to be righted. Yet, in the parable, his selection, again, though technically not wrong [he followed the letter of the law], was obviously portrayed as a decision that a Christian should not make. And he was even punished by his master for trying to seek justice for the wrong he had suffered. We then have the dealing of the master with the servant. The master, again, according to the law, had every right to punish his servant and to seek justice for the wrong his servant had done. The master was well within his rights to force the repayment of the debt. But at his servants pleading, the master chooses not justice, but instead he chooses mercy – he chooses love, and the way of Christ. His choice is extolled in the parable as the choice our God would have us make.

If we remember our readings of the Scriptures, we’ll remember this verse – “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” Justice, setting things right, these things belong not to us, but to God. We’re not even to think in the terms of doing something on our own to set right when we have been wronged. Our duty, as shown to us very plainly in this parable, is to forgive. And this is a radical call – a radical call to forgiveness. To forgive, even when righting the wrong is well within our reach in terms of what the world sees as fitting and lawful. At the end of today’s Gospel we read: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” This is same prayer we say in the Our Father – “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Continuing to explain this teaching, the Holy Fathers speak about remembrance of wrongs, and bearing wrongs. Our duty is to forgive, to reject the remembrance of wrongs. This is not simply an intellectual exercise, but a spiritual one. We’re to let go of our sinful emotions and feelings and desires related to any wrong we’ve suffered. And perhaps even more radical than forgiving wrongs and refusing to continue to remember and to seek justice is the call to bear this burden. We’re told in the Gospel to take up our cross and follow Christ, and one aspect of this cross is bearing the burden of wrongs committed against us. We have as examples not only this parable, but the lives of many of our Saints, and especially the life of our Lord. When he was falsely accused and ridiculed and beaten and spat upon and eventually crucified, He was being wronged as God on a level that we humans cannot even understand. Yet he bore this in silence. He accepted this treatment, and near the end He spoke those powerful words of forgiveness. Ultimately, His is the example we’re called to follow.

We’re not to seek justice or vengeance in this life, and we’re not to hope that God gets even for us. We’re to bear the wrongs of others, and offer them to God. Forgiving in this way offers us a great opportunity for spiritual growth, for being more like Christ, for humility and honesty and mercy. As we remembered last Sunday, as Christians we are called to be different from the way of the world, and this seems like absolute foolishness to the world, but it’s the behavior we’re called to exhibit if we’re to truly be followers of Christ. To forgive, seventy times seven, to forgive to the end, regardless of our own sufferings, to forgive and to follow our Saviour.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson