All of Us Must learn to Forgive

09-11-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The major theme of the mass readings this weekend is God’s forgiveness. Upon reflection, we may realize that God’s forgiveness is part of the core of our faith. The gracious acts of forgiveness by God truly empower us to go on in our daily lives. We realize that there is no completely logical or scientific explanation of why our God forgives us. Forgiveness by God gives us back our future and puts us back on the right road to living life

Our Old Testament reading seems to illustrate a slightly “difficult” God who is easily swayed by the pleading of a just man Moses. In some ways, God appears to be impulsive and small-minded while Moses appears to be quite wise and prudent. Yet when we think about the passage we realize it is meant to tell us God’s heart is breaking over us, yet His heart is filled with forgiveness.

The background of this passage is God had just given the Ten Commandments to the Israelites and right away they start to worship a false idol. This bold defiance certainly angers God. Moses is trying to diplomatically solve the problem. He reminds God that the Israelites are His people Moses; he also reminds God of his reputation for honor and fidelity. The purpose of this section about Moses is to tell us that we do not outwit God by our stratagems but rather that God’s enduring attitude towards us is always forgiveness.

Note how Paul offers himself as an example of a great sinner in his letter to Timothy. In the gospel of this weekend, there are three examples of God’s forgiving love. In listening to the words of Jesus, we learn that like a very particular and fussy housekeeper, a good shepherd, or a prodigal father, God goes out of His way to recover the lost and also forgive. Through these examples, Jesus is teaching us that we must abandon a capitalist view of the Christian life. If God can be so generous and so forgiving without cost or gain to those we deem unworthy, we must also do the same.

Because there are many lessons for us in this weekend’s scripture we should focus on one topic alone. Perhaps we should focus on “stubbornness”. God recognizes in this passage that the Israelites do not truly value or appreciate their covenanted relationship with God. They fail to realize that he has rescued them from the Egyptians, fed them in the desert and made a special covenant with them. Instead he finds them worshipping an idol that looks like a giant gold cow. God clearly and absolutely forgives the Israelites for breaking outrageously the first commandant of the Decalogue. In the Gospel, God forgives the repentant sinner, no matter how undeserving that forgiveness may seem to those who want to condemn the sinner. This is the lesson of the scripture for all of us this weekend: God forgives everyone from the blatant sinner to even those who are rigid in their faith and have a hardened heart. All of us are blessed to have this grace. All of us must learn to forgive.