Peter came to Jesus and asked him if he should forgive his brother or sister up to seven times. Jesus answered,"I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Then he told a parable describing the kingdom of heaven:
...the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "At this the servant fell on his knees before him.'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart." (Matthew 18:23-35)
Yikes! It looks like we'd better get busy and show mercy to our brothers and sisters or else we're in real trouble!! But I think we need to look a little deeper than that. I know I need to look deeper.
The king in the parable asked the servant, "Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" Hey, that sounds like the Golden Rule: "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." How are we doing with that? Sometimes it's hardest to extend grace to those who are closest to us, even within our own homes, maybe especially if we're confined to our homes during the pandemic (and during an election year). But more than likely, our loved ones are extending grace to us too, even if we're not aware.
This Sunday's anthem is titled "The Wideness of God's Mercy" by Frederick William Faber. Here is the first verse:
There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in His justice, which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner and more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior; there is healing in His blood.
If we are aware of how we have sinned against God (deserving his judgment) and the price that God paid to reconcile us with him, we might maybe begin to grasp the unfathomable mercy and love and grace that he extends to us, at every moment. So it stands to reason that we should accept that grace and extend it to our brothers and sisters who have committed far lesser crimes against us.