Day Twenty one - Third Tuesday of Lent
The primary lesson of LentMatthew 21 - 35
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-sevenhtimes. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.
So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’
Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’
But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.
When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’
And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
When it comes to forgiveness Jesus doesn’t mess around. Peter asks Jesus, “How many times do I need to forgive a person? Seven?”
Jesus says, “No. Seventy seven!” Then Jesus goes on to tell the story about the forgiving Landlord of the manor and the slave who owed him money.
People, who think they are being generous and wise, often say something clever like “Forgive but don’t forget.” What does this mean? Is this half hearted forgiveness? Make nice but hold a grudge? Move on into the future, but hold on to the past?
Jesus’ story winds up with the statement saying that we have to forgive “from our heart” which means we need to rise above it and forget about it as well.
Sometimes people change and do you really want to hold the past against them? What kind of forgiveness is that? That is forgiveness on the path of the ego. Forgiveness on the path of the Spirit rises above the perceived hurt and injustice and moves on as if it never happened.
Forgiveness, as defined in A Course In Miracles, is making a decision to no longer hold the person responsible for your unhappiness. The only person ultimately responsible for your unhappiness or happiness is you. To make other people responsible for your unhappiness is a trap of the ego which contributes to resentment, grievance, and a desire for revenge.
As Jesus is being crucified His Spirit is resurrected when He says with a laugh, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus demonstrated in the most extreme of circumstances that the world of Spirit transcends the world of the ego. This is the primary lesson of Lent.