Do you remember a time when you wanted to mend a relationship, to reconnect with someone so that things could return to normal again? How difficult it is to fix things like that! Wouldn’t it be nice to have an instruction manual to tell us how to make that happen?
The good news is that in the Good News we have exactly that – a manual of instructions for our relationship with God and each other. We don’t have to guess how to forgive each other and restore our connections, there are lessons everywhere we look in Scripture. Jesus told us to forgive each other without keeping track of how often we do it, saying “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22), as if someone would really count that many and then stop forgiving. Jesus is the ultimate example of this, praying on the cross “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34) for those who crucified him.
It may be hard for us to understand such loving forgiveness, and Jesus gave us a more human example in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). When I was young I had trouble with that strange word and called him the Problem Son. Maybe I was more right than I realized! When he returned, the father forgave the wayward boy and restored their relationship. Jesus said that is the way God will welcome sinners who return to him. Perhaps more important to us though is the reaction of the older brother in this story. Are we as welcoming and forgiving as the father in this story, and our loving Father in heaven, or are we angry that sinners might be welcomed back into the family?
We have to forgive each other in order to fully accept the forgiveness God gives us! We are called to repent and return as individuals, but we are also called to forgive each other as the people of God.
Merciful Lord, you forgive our sins and welcome us back as children of your kingdom. Help us to forgive and welcome those around us that we may all be brothers and sisters in Christ.