25 ‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.’
One of my favorite ancient Christian writers, Athanasius, said that God became a man, so that men might become like God. At first, this is a little startling. How can we possibly become like God?
The gospel lesson this morning is one of those key passages that explore our transformation into God’s likeness. God the Father is a forgiving God. Constantly and consistently, God reaches out to us and puts away our sins. Through the cross, Jesus reconciled us to the Father as a sign of God’s reconciliation with the whole world. The cross stands as a stark image of God’s forgiveness.
If forgiveness is part of God’s nature, then we, who wish to become like God, must also forgive. And I’m not talking about forgiving the little things: the guy who cut you off on the freeway or the perceived wrong. Forgiveness means allowing God to heal the wounds that we have inflicted upon ourselves, and the wounds that we refuse to let heal. We can spiritually pick at the scabs of our woundedness, which only prevents true healing to occur. To put it a more colloquial fashion, Anne Lamott said that, “not forgiving someone is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die” (Traveling Mercies).
Forgive yourself, forgive others, just as God has forgiven you. And may your wounds heal so that you might be a shining example of holiness to the world.
The Rev. Jimmy Abbott