Summary: A sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 19 A sermon about how many times should one forgive
17th Sunday Pentecost
21* ¶ Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
23* "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24* When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;
25* and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26* So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ’Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’
27* And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28* But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ’Pay what you owe.’
29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ’Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’
30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
31* When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
32* Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ’You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me;
33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
34* And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.
35* 35* So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."RSV
I would like to begin by telling you about a certain household and let us pretend to be able to hear and understand the thoughts of two of the people in that household.
In this household is a mother, a wife, who has her father-in-law living with her.
From the moment this man cam to live with them, the atmosphere, the tension, the uneasiness in that house became more apparent. The wife thought to herself, "I have enough to do, I can’t take care of this man, too. Besides, he doesn’t like me. He has always felt I stole his son from him. And now that his wife has died, he feels even more alone and blames me. Why do I have to have him in my house, anyway.
As you can see, the situation was not good. She felt it was all his fault, because he will ill tempered and he even had the gout with his foot wrapped resting it on the open oven door of the kitchen stove. He would complain about what his daughter-in-law did and how she fixed the food, until she would get so angry she just couldn’t stand it.
He thought, "I am so lonely. And her, she did it. She took my son. and now that the little lady is gone, oh, I miss her, I have no one to talk with, no one to understand me like she did. I know she is not like my dear wife, Mary, no one could be like her, but I wish she would try."
As you can see, beside the outward actions which were not good, there was a lot of thoughts under the surface which did not come out or were shared with anyone. The wife was full of resentment of having to put up with the man, and he is so lonely, so unhappy with no one to talk with or share his feelings.
The wife was a Christian woman; yet she was high-spirited and would lose her temper and explode. She would explode at him, he would yell back. Then, there would be those long frosty days to follow, when neither one would talk, or even look at the other. Then a mild thaw would come, but yet another explosion and the same pattern would be repeated again and again.
Finally, the woman could not take it any longer. She went to her pastor. She felt guilty about her feelings, she felt ashamed she felt hurt, she felt unforgiving. She felt plan lousy. She told her pastor the whole story, "I just can’t control myself. What can I do??"she asked . The pastor asked, "What does he like to eat the most?" The woman answered with a surprised look on her face,"Fudge." "Next time you and he are about to get into another shouting match, stop and make him some fudge," said the pastor.