When I went to church this morning, I realised it was Holy Cross Day. Now the readings for Holy Cross were much nicer than those Rosie & I were faced with when we looked at the “X no of Sundays after Trinity” readings given for today. It would have been great to do a reflection on John 3.16 or Philippians 2. The Gospel reading we had ended with words like “torture” and the image of the unforgiving servant being “handed over” by an angry God. This is why my reflection nicely ignored that part of the reading.
But, as I reflect further I wonder if the very attitude of unforgiveness that the servant possessed was in fact the torture he was given over to. The very fact that he immediately went off to reclaim his debts from another shows just how little the initial act of forgiveness had impacted his life. His torture was missing the radical, generous act that his master had done for him. If he had grasped the extent of the forgiveness he had received, then squabbling with another slave over a much smaller debt surely wouldn’t have entered his mind. Was that the torture? Not being able to accept – and then extend – forgiveness? Just some thoughts. Thoughts that I couldn’t quite fit into my reflection this evening.
Anyway, that’s not really why I wrote this blog. It was really just to share the “poetic response” which I offered in the service. The nice, tidy reflection which didn’t mention torture! Here it is:
How many times?
Where is the catch?
Seven chances before your luck runs out.
Seven times and then you’re on your own.
After all, isn’t this is how forgiveness works – there are no free rides. Well. Maybe there are. Seven.
Go one more, he said. And then multiply a few times. Seventy-Seven.
Or, if you rather, Seventy. Times Seven. Times Seventy. Times Seven. Times…
Over and over.
Until you no longer realise you’re counting.
Until it’s not a service to be paid. Until it’s not a duty to oblige.
He said seventy-seven times. But it was never about the numbers.
It was about the attitude.
Numbers don’t matter to a person who lives the way of forgiveness.
So stop counting.
Forgive without the numbers.