Luke 16:15-18; 17:1-4 (ESV)
At that time, the Lord said to the Pharisees, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. 16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. 18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Glory be to Jesus Christ!
When someone commits sin or an injustice against us, we are quick to rebuke the person or speak ill of him/her to others. Are we, however, just as eager and quick to forgive that person for their sin when they repent? More often than not, we have to admit that, no, we are not eager to forgive.
Today’s Gospel reading looks across numerous topics and ends with our Lord talking about forgiveness. It is interesting to note that when Jesus speaks of our brother or sister repenting and asking for forgiveness, He does not say “you may forgive him” or “you should forgive him.” Rather, Jesus speaks with insistence that “you must forgive him.”
Forgiveness is not an option; the one who believes and desires to follow Christ must act like Christ who, in dying on the cross, forgave the very people who condemned Him to be crucified. As we approach the “Winter Pascha”, the great feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, may we never withhold forgiveness from those who desire it and repent of whatever sin they may have committed against us. May we be just as eager to forgive as we are to repent and seek forgiveness for our own sins.