Ancient Answers


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Did Jesus Really Say…?

Last Sunday’s Gospel reading in the Orthodox Church presented some serious conundrums – serious at least to me, but perhaps not to anyone else. Here is the Gospel passage as it was read at Liturgy:

The Lord said this parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, 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 servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the torturers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23-35)

Did Jesus really say what Matthew wrote at the end of this passage? Did Jesus really speak that very heavy, very final threat? And is that threat consistent with the message of the parable? And is the message of the parable clear the way it was read at the Liturgy in Orthodox churches? These are my conundrums – at least for starters.

The first problem that arises from the way it was read at the Liturgy is that the context is missing! And that’s a recurring problem in the Gospel readings of our Lectionary. According to the 18th chapter of Matthew, Jesus did not utter this parable out of the blue. It was prompted by a question from his disciple Peter:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Note that I didn’t close the quotation, because Jesus did not stop at that point, and Matthew did not write The Lord said this parable, as our Gospel reading began yesterday. As a matter of fact, this is what Matthew wrote:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants….”

Do you see how the parable came about? It was directly prompted by Peter’s question. Jesus immediately answered Peter’s question and immediately went on to further illustrate an answer to Peter with the parable: Therefore… Διὰ τοῦτο ὡμοιώθη….= For this reason/in this manner the kingdom of heaven may be compared….

To separate the parable from its context in Peter’s question is to do huge damage – and is a further step in making it a parable of insurmountable threat. But the first step in making it a parable of threat was taken by Matthew himself in the way he drafted this passage. The church merely took it further by removing the context and making it an absolute threat!

The only way I can make sense of this parable as written by Matthew, with its context (and not as it was read without the context!), is to assume that the threat was added by Matthew and was not spoken by Jesus. In other words, I’m saying that Matthew put the threat in Jesus’ mouth. Only a fundamentalist would be shocked by such a statement. Scholars have demonstrated beyond any doubt that the writers of the Gospels injected their own understanding in how they represented the words and actions of Jesus. That is why the four Gospels often differ and even contradict each other in many specifics. That is why John stands almost completely alone in how he represents Jesus – and is the reason why the Orthodox Church gave him, alone among the New Testament writers, the epithet “Theologian”. And even though the other three Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – share more similarities than differences – which is the reason they are called Synoptic Gospels – nevertheless, each of them chose to emphasise different aspects of the multi-dimensional impression that Jesus made to first-century Judeans and continues to make to 21st-century global citizens.

Close-up of writing in the Codex Sinaiticus (click on the image to enlarge)

Am I being anti-fundamentalist, liberal, politically correct in attributing the threat to Matthew rather than Jesus? It might not even have been Matthew; it could have been an early redactor somewhere in the Mediterranean when the Gospel began to be copied and distributed among the early churches. After all, the earliest manuscript that contains the full text of Matthew is the so-called Codex Sinaiticus, which is kept secure in the British Library in London. This manuscript dates from the fourth century, about 300 years after Matthew wrote his Gospel. A lot can happen to a written text in 300 years, as the various papyrus fragments and manuscripts clearly show. (The page of Codex Sinaiticus that contains the parable can be viewed by clicking here.)

The Codex Sinaiticus on protected display at the British Library in London, England

Jesus often spoke about forgiveness – both God’s forgiveness of our sins and our need to forgive each other. But it seems that only Matthew included a statement of threat: here, in verse 35 of chapter 18; and in verse 15 of chapter 6…“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) The fact that only Matthew includes such threats is one reason to believe that he put the words of the threat in Jesus’ mouth in our Gospel reading.

Furthermore, the threat is inconsistent with the message and context of the parable. Peter’s question came from a mindset of placing limits to forgiveness. “How often should I forgive, seven times?” Jesus’ answer – seventy times seven – was not meant to place a higher limit, 490 times, to forgiveness, but to eliminate the thought of limits altogether! He was telling Peter to not count the times he would forgive.

Therefore… Διὰ τοῦτο, Jesus goes on to give a parable, an illustration of what God is like and what man is like. The lord in the parable is an image of God. His forgiveness is limitless. The servant receives limitless forgiveness, but cannot reciprocate even minimal forgiveness on his fellow servant. Here lies the answer to Peter’s question. With this parable Jesus is telling Peter that the minute he starts counting how often he should forgive his brother, he comes close to resembling the servant who cannot forgive. The parable is addressed to Peter!

The parable is addressed to Peter and in response to Peter’s question. But it is also addressed to every one of us, because we all have a hard time forgiving. We find it difficult to forgive once – never mind seven times or seventy times seven! But because the parable is addressed to every one of us, removing the context of Peter’s question removes also from the discourse our own human preference for limits. And then when Matthew throws in the threat at the end we end up with a parable that is overbearingly threatening.

And here is the crux of the matter and why it is so wrong to ignore the context. Peter’s question is meant to put limits to forgiveness. The parable shows the contrast between God’s limitless forgiveness and man’s/Peter’s limited forgiveness or even complete inability to forgive. If the lord in the parable is meant to illustrate God’s limitless forgiveness, how is it logical for this lord to consign the wicked servant to total and final punishment? Why doesn’t he at least decide to forgive the wicked servant the rhetorical “seventy times seven” that Jesus spoke to Peter? How is God’s limitless forgiveness consistent with the treatment of the wicked servant and with the threat that concludes the parable?

Perhaps Jesus concluded the parable with some statement contrasting the limitless forgiveness of God and the limited forgiveness that human beings can barely manage. And perhaps Jesus rounded out his answer to Peter by encouraging Peter to act like the lord in the parable instead of the wicked servant. Because the minute you start counting, Peter, you run the risk of not forgiving at all. Perhaps Jesus concluded the parable with something like that – and something got lost in translation from Aramaic to Greek when Matthew put his Gospel together. Or, perhaps Jesus concluded the parable without any moral message to Peter. Perhaps he threw out the parable like a Zen koan; just to show two extremes and let Peter draw his own conclusion – and for us to do likewise. 

In Dostoyevsky’s great novel, The Brothers Karamazov, there is another parable about forgiveness, with a similar message about limits. This is the story of the old woman and the onion.

“Once upon a time there was a woman, and she was wicked as wicked could be, and she died. And not one good deed was left behind her. The devils took her and threw her into the lake of fire. And her guardian angel stood thinking: what good deed of hers can I remember to tell God? Then he remembered and said to God: once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar woman. And God answered: take now that same onion, hold it out to her in the lake, let her take hold of it and pull, and if you pull her out of the lake, she can go to paradise. The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her: here, woman, he said, take hold of it and I’ll pull. And he began pulling carefully, and had almost pulled her all of the way out, when other sinners in the lake saw her being pulled out and all began holding on to her so as to be pulled out with her. But the woman was wicked as wicked could be, and she began to kick them with her feet: ‘It’s me who’s getting pulled out, not you; it’s my onion, not yours.’ No sooner did she say it than the onion broke. And the woman fell back into the lake and is burning there to this day. And the angel wept and went away.”

The message of Dostoyevsky’s parable is different from Jesus’ parable, but the contrast is the same, between God’s limitless forgiveness and mercy and man’s selfish, limited ability to be merciful. That one onion represented the only good deed the woman had ever done in her life, and it could have been the means of saving not only her, but countless, maybe a million, others. God was allowing it. But the woman’s selfishness overcame even God’s limitless mercy. The only obstacle to God’s limitless forgiveness and mercy is man’s selfish small mindedness. The woman was so absorbed in her selfishness, she could not trust in God who held out the onion to her!

Perhaps, in the final analysis, forgiveness is about trusting God. 


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The Mystery of the Unrecognised Christ

 

Everything begins with forgiveness. Authentic life begins the minute we are able to forgive and receive forgiveness. Until then, all is theory and talk. The key moment on the Cross was when Jesus looked out at the soldiers and crowd and spoke the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Our salvation was sealed at that moment. Everything that comes after that, including 2,000 years of church history, is just footnote to those words Jesus spoke on the Cross.

But most of us don’t know that we are forgiven, and we go through life lurching from day to day, bouncing back and forth from one professional help to another, from one religious expert to another.

So I like to describe Lent this year as our voyage of discovery, the discovery that we are forgiven. But also the discovery of what we do with our forgiveness. How does it affect our lives, our attitudes and actions? This is what I want to explore in this series of Lenten sermons that I’m calling Emmaus Walk. Many years ago I was doing a 15 or 20-minute teaching every Sunday morning between the end of Matins and the beginning of Liturgy. I called it Emmaus Walk, a preparation for encountering the risen Christ at the Liturgy.

The series of sermons I’m now calling Emmaus Walk will take us to Easter. But along the way I want to discover together with you the Christ who is walking with us every step of the way.

Do you remember the Emmaus story in the Gospel of Luke? Here is the first half of the story as Luke tells it (chapter 24, beginning at verse 13):

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma′us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognising him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle′opas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”

The scene describes where most of us are most of the time. We have heard about Jesus Christ. We have listened to many Gospel readings in the Liturgy. We hear some of our friends and relatives talking with great conviction about Jesus, how their faith in him has transformed their lives. We go to church regularly, we follow some traditions handed down by our mothers or grandmothers. But we don’t quite know how to put it all together. We don’t know quite what to make of this Jesus Christ and all the talk about him. We don’t know why we follow certain traditions or how to pass them on to our children or grandchildren who have a different approach to life and who don’t worry about the same things we worry about. We begin to have doubts ourselves. Maybe it is all a myth after all. 

That’s where Cleopas and his unnamed companion were on that Sunday afternoon long ago. (And by the way, why does the second, unnamed disciple have to be another man? Why couldn’t it have been a woman, as the beautiful but very unusual – very “un-Orthodox” – icon on the right imagines?) They had seen Jesus die on the Cross, they were deeply troubled by how things ended, they are confused and sad. They saw all their hopes disappear on the Cross. But now they hear that some women had found the tomb empty. They keep walking, not knowing what to make of it all.

Only one person can explain it to them – Jesus himself. He joins them in their walk, but they don’t recognise him. Perhaps his appearance was different after the resurrection? What happens after he joins them we’ll explore in the next few sermons.

Only Jesus can satisfy our questions, our doubts. And he does come to us. We don’t recognise him, because he comes to us as one of the least of his brothers and sisters as we heard last week in our Gospel reading (Matthew 25:31-46). Very often the answers we need at a particular moment come from the most unexpected persons. This is the mystery of the unrecognised Jesus.

The mystery of the unrecognised Christ is all around us. We just need to open our minds and hearts to see it and hear it. Christ is with us – usually in the least expected places and persons. We might see him in the person we forgive or who forgives us. We might hear his wisdom from the mouth of a child. We might understand his Cross in a tragedy such as the one in Florida this past week. Everything is a mystery of his presence, his unrecognised presence.

 


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Perfected in forgiveness

 

As I think upon the Cross of Jesus Christ today, I remember the first words that Jesus spoke on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Forgiveness, the hardest thing for human beings to do. Yet, the thing most characteristic of the one who was God and Man! Oh, but you might still say, so easy for him to forgive! After all, he wasn’t just a man, he was God! Yes, but God nailed to a Cross in human flesh, enduring human suffering. God humiliated by sinful men! You want to think again about how easy we should presume it was for God to forgive?

Here is the thing about forgiveness. It is not a theoretical thing, something for philosophers and theologians to write about or speculate about. It is an action. And only if you have suffered in the hands of someone else can you forgive, can you experience forgiveness. To be truly forgiving, God had to suffer the indignity of the Cross. That is the meaning of Christ’s death on the Cross. Jesus did not die in order to appease an angry God, as you often hear from TV and radio preachers. Quite the contrary, Jesus died to bring to perfection God’s love – because love is perfected in forgiveness. It is the highest human perfection – it is the thing that makes us most like God.

Hebrews 2:10-11  In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation (ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας) perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same source (ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες). So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Poster for the film Of Gods and Men (click to enlarge)

Poster for the film Of Gods and Men (click to enlarge)

Powerful example of forgiveness: seven French Trappist monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, beheaded by Islamic extremists in 1996. Their story was made into an award-winning film in 2010, Of Gods and Men. The prior of the Algerian monastery, Christian de Chergé, had had a strange premonition that he would soon die a violent death, and wrote a letter forgiving his future assassins, sealed it, and left it with his mother in France. Opened after his murder, it read in part:

If it should happen one day – and it could be today – that I become a victim of the terrorism that now seems to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to Algeria; and that they accept that the sole Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure.

I would like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual clarity that would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time to forgive with all my heart the one who will strike me down.

I could not desire such a death; it seems to me important to state this: How could I rejoice if the Algerian people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder?

I know the caricatures which a certain Islamic ideology encourages and which make it easy for some to dismiss the religion as hateful…

My death, obviously, will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naïve or idealistic: “Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!” But such people should know that at last I will be able to see the children of Islam as He sees them—all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His passion. His secret joy will always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with the differences.…

For this life lost, I give thanks to God. In this “thank you” … I certainly include you, my last-minute friend who will not have known what you are doing…I commend you to the God in whose face I see yours. And may we find each other, happy “good thieves” in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both.

The man who wrote these words understood the meaning of the Cross. We most likely will not experience death by beheading or death on a Cross. But we can forgive!

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There are many websites with information about the monks of Tibhirine. For example: Here and here.

Wikipedia has articles on Christian de Chergé and on the assassination of the monks.

The full text of the “last testament” of Christian de Chergé can be read here. Also here in a slightly different translation: Testament-engl


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Before Lent, a Party!

 

My hometown Patra is famous for two reasons, maybe three. It’s where the Greek Revolution officially began on 25 March 1821. But today it is most famous for its annual Carnival, Καρναβάλι, the best in Greece and one of the best in the world. It is almost as old as the Greek Revolution and reflects the huge Italian influence in the city’s appearance and lifestyle.

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There is nothing like the Patrino Karnavali in any other Orthodox country. It lasts for many days, reaching its climax last night and concluding today with the grand parade of floats. The floats are like nothing you’ll see anywhere else, gargantuan homages to various stories and persons, including many that are satirical. As a child, I looked forward to the chocolates that were thrown from the various floats.

Even the waters of Patra harbor share in the parade of floats!

Even the waters of Patra harbor share in the parade of floats!

It’s a grand party to welcome Lent. And why not? Rio has its carnival before the Catholic Lent begins. New Orleans has its Mardi Gras. Everywhere, Lent is welcomed with partying, dancing, singing, lots of drinking and big parades. Lent begins at the end of partying and Lent comes to an end in order that we may enjoy an even greater joy, the joy of Easter, the joy of resurrection.

Why do we need Lent? For the same reason that we need Easter and resurrection. Lent reminds us of our fall from communion with God. And it is that communion and union with God that Jesus restored with his own passion and resurrection.

Every year we are given the opportunity to renew our connection with God. We drift away every day that we are alive. We miss the mark – the στόχος of our existence. This is what sin is. We miss the mark, we fall short, we fall behind. Lent comes around to help us catch up.

Catch up to what, to whom? To whom might be the better question. To Jesus of course. He walks in front of us, showing us how he lived and walked 2,000 years ago, in a society that had as many problems as our modern world has. And the biggest problem then is the same as today. As I said last Sunday, it’s all about seeing – seeing the other person, the person in need, seeing our own need for God and for each other. Blindness is our problem. That’s why the first and second commandments are what they are; You shall love the Lord your God… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. We love God because we need God; we love the neighbor because we need the neighbor!

We need each other. We need Christ in our lives. So we party to be with each other. And when we are with Christ it will be another party, much grander than anything even Patra can throw together.

Three parables have brought us to this Sunday:

Three weeks ago, the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.

Two weeks ago, the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Last week, the Parable of the Last Judgment (the Sheep and Goats).

All three parables tell us important truths about our life with God and with each other. Finally, today’s Gospel reading tells us we need forgiveness. Like the Pharisee, we act with pride and hypocrisy. Like the Prodigal Son, we drift far from God. And like the goats at the Last Judgment, we are self-centered and ignore those who need our compassion.

Notice the sequence: pride and hypocrisy ☛ lead to distance from God ⥤ result in self-centered lack of love for others. This is how we miss the mark of our purpose for existing. Lent is about bringing us back to our true selves. It’s an invitation to come to ourselves, like the prodigal son did, before it’s too late and we end up like one of the goats. And just like the prodigal returned to a party, so also there is joy in God’s house when every one of his prodigal sons and daughters returns.

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The eastern waterfront of Patra. The huge shrine church of St. Andrew the Apostle is clearly visible (click to enlarge).


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Healing needs Forgiveness

Compassion is at the heart of Jesus’ life and teaching because hurt is to be taken seriously. Jesus experienced everything that human hurt is. Not only did he experience hurt, he became hurt! That’s how seriously he took it. Hence his angry reaction to scribes, Pharisees and other religious types who put religion and beliefs about God above dealing with human hurt.

Forgive

There is a mystery at the heart of today’s Gospel (Matthew 9:1-8). Confronted with a physical ailment, Jesus first pronounced forgiveness of sins. This does not mean that the man’s paralysis was caused by sin. Jesus rejected the idea on more than one occasion (John 9:3; Luke 13:2). Mark describes a similar incident. And John describes the healing of another paralytic to whom Jesus said, “Sin no more.” Forgiveness was especially important to everything Jesus did and spoke, so we might conclude that sin is always involved in illness. But let’s be careful in saying that: Sometimes sin is indeed the cause of illness (smoking, drugs, for example). But most often sin is a result of illness!. For example, illness can lead to despair, bitterness, jealousy, anger, rejection of God, even suicide!

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Forgiveness, therefore, is essential for complete healing. This is the part that the Pharisees didn’t understand. Yes, only God can forgive sins (as the Pharisees point out in Mark 2:7) – but we humans can help someone come to that place of total healing. We can help a person come through the anger and despair and bitterness, so that the physical healing will be more powerful when it happens. Jesus was profoundly aware of human needs.

Greece today is the “sick man of Europe”. The sickness is deep, and without forgiveness nothing will happen to improve the situation. Forgiveness of debt must be part of any rescue. Without it no healing can take place. Take it from Jesus! The tragedy is that while Greece is being looked upon as a dysfunctional country, the real sickness is in Europe itself. Jesus would say, “Physician heal yourself” (Luke 4:23). Europe has lost its soul; and Greece lost its own soul when it joined the euro.

What a contrast to the values that should describe a Christian society. And where in the world do you find such a society? Nowhere, because no nation can possibly be Christian, regardless of what it claims to be! Listen to what St. Paul wrote in today’s reading. Do you see these values where you live?

Let love be genuine (Ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος); hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection (τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι); outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit (τῷ πνεύματι ζέοντες – lit. ‘boil in the spirit’ = to commit oneself completely), serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints (ταῖς χρείαις τῶν ἁγίων κοινωνοῦντες – κοινωνία, sharing), practice hospitality (τὴν φιλοξενίαν διώκοντες). Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

That’s St. Paul. In the past two weeks, three times I started to write about the Greek situation, but abandoned each effort and all three exist as incomplete drafts on this website. I started a fourth attempt and it was going to be my sermon today, but decided again to not pursue it. My primary responsibility is to preach the gospel as fully and honestly as I can. I briefly mentioned Greece and Europe today, but I think it’s best for individual people to draw their own conclusions and what connections they want to make between the messages of the Gospel and St. Paul today. The message of Jesus is always relevant and up to date!


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Lessons for Lent

In an interview several years ago, the famous German conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908-89), was talking about his early years as a musician. He made this remarkable statement: “Then came the decisive day when I discovered that my two hands weren’t enough to express what I wanted to express.”

His two hands were not enough to express what he wanted to express. That’s how he discovered that he needed a hundred pairs of hands to express what he wanted to express. In other words, he needed a fully symphony orchestra, and that’s how he discovered his calling to be one of the leading conductors of the 20th century, who went on to become music director for life of the most famous orchestra in the world, the Berlin Philharmonic.

The same can be said of the Bible. It needed many hands to get its story out. And the story got told many times, in many variations. The Bible is indeed a collection of stories. Jesus himself taught mainly in stories; we call them parables.

And three of those parables have prepared us for the beginning of Lent.

  • Three weeks ago, the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, taught us to watch out for pride and hypocrisy in our lives.
  • Two weeks ago, the Parable of the Prodigal Son gave us the story of a young man who squandered his inheritance in a far country until he “came to himself.” The parable is a call for us to come home!
  • Last week, the Parable of the Last Judgment (the Sheep and Goats) told us that it’s not theology that decides our standing with God, but rather whether we notice and help those less fortunate than ourselves.
  • Finally, today’s Gospel reading tells us we need forgiveness. And this is why we need forgiveness: Like the Pharisee, we act with pride and hypocrisy. Like the Prodigal Son, we drift far from God. And like the goats at the Last Judgment, we are self-centered and ignore those who need our compassion.

In the final analysis, we are invited to enter Lent with awareness that we are not alone. The Christian life is not simply about me and God, my personal relationship with Jesus. You can’t have a relationship with Jesus alone! The Gospel today tells us that you can’t ask God to forgive you if you don’t forgive those who have done bad things to you.

My sermon today explored this theme in greater detail. The audio file is here: