Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seventy Times Seven

Today's post title was also today's Gospel in church. Through the parable of the Unmerciful
Servant (Matthew 18:21-35), we are taught to forgive our enemies "Seventy times seven" times. Today is and may forever be a painful reminder of whom the US considers an enemy. Can our country ever truly forgive the hatred responsible for so many thousands of deaths which occurred on or as a result of that fateful day?
Today my priest compared 9/11/2001 to Good Friday in the following ways: all who perished on 9/11 were crucified. The American Dream, Freedom, Christianity, Liberty; all of these tenets the victims enjoyed so openly became their "crime" in the eyes of radical terrorists and the appointed sentence was death.  Though they did not die on a cross, I think it is no coincidence that a cross was found at the site. 
No, we do not expect the 9/11 victims to return to Earth alive as Jesus did. However, we cannot let the victims die in vain.  It is okay to disagree with another's lifestyle but we must approach all situations with a forgiving heart.  In the Parable, the King forgave his servant only to learn that the same servant denied forgiveness to another.  So the King handed down a terrible sentence to the unforgiving servant.  
The Apostle Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive someone seven times? (As in, "Shouldn't I learn a lesson and just stop forgiving, since I'm only going to be wronged again?") But Jesus gave a likely unexpected answer and said "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times." If we cannot accomplish this, then we should expect to be punished as severely as the unforgiving servant. Jesus said "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-22, 35)
A view of today's 10th Anniversary opening of the WTC Memorial (source)
On a smaller scale, I'm challenging myself--and also all readers--to think about my enemies.  Who are they? The poor economy? The downed real estate market? Unexpected divorce? Infertility? A friend/relative/coworker who doesn't share our own ideals?  A political figure we didn't vote for? Am I capable of forgiving that person?
I think children are our best examples.  They are so naturally forgiving, and it's a good thing since Rob and Caroline have me for a mommy.  I have my flaws.  I gossip.  I put off until tomorrow what should be done today.  I occasionally plan grocery lists in church...I know God forgives me, but He expects me to forgive others, too.
Forgiveness is the best way to keep 9/11/2001 from being a total tragedy.  Because our quest for Freedom, Liberty, Prosperity, etc., could not be forgiven by others, more than 2,000 lives were lost.  I owe it to these two kids above to show them how a Christian truly lives...They will never know life before 9/11.

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