Genesis 50:15-21, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35
Many years ago, I worked for a woman who had once been a senior nurse in a teaching hospital. She brought us a wonderful rule from her experience there: if we came to her and freely shared any mistake we’d made in our jobs, there would be no blame. We could immediately focus our attention on fixing what could be fixed and learning what could be learned, not on assigning culpability. It was a liberation and a blessing, day after day, to be forgiven. To have permission to forgive ourselves.
How much weight of blame do we carry each day, weight that we gather to ourselves or heap onto others? We struggle along with Peter, wondering how it’s possible for forgiveness to be a fountain, leaping in the sun over and over again, with too many joyous arcs to count. It isn’t simple. Forgiveness only begins with the arc — there’s still the hard work of repair and the slow unfolding of healing that follows. Without that work and without tending to the unfolding, we live with the myth that we are powerless and that our actions, good or bad, can have no consequences.
What would it be like to undertake what God calls us to, this sacred tikkun olam, the repair of our suffering world, with our eyes fixed on promise, not punishment?
Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.