3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, I repent, you must forgive.
Today Nouwen thinks about being forgiven. Being the forgiver we’re in control. Being forgiven, we have to be vulnerable – to admit we’ve failed – to ask for forgiveness. Can we, in our own hearts, ask God for forgiveness? Are we willing to be vulnerable to God?
Today’s Bible choice is on that theme – we should rebuke a offender, but if they repent, we should forgive them, however often they sin.
This is, of course, our daily prayer. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. How then can we live up to this? How, for example, can I feel called to forgive those who stole from me the other week even though I have no idea who they were and whether or not they repented? How can I forgive the colleague who sees nothing wrong in not pulling their weight and leaving me to pick up the pieces?
The answer, surely, lies in that prayer. Forgive us our trespasses – we all sin, however good we are – as we forgive those who trespass against us. Because we are all sinners, we are in need of forgiveness, hence we must ourselves forgive.
Today’s Advent Action in the book is to ask forgiveness of one person today. Early days yet, but I’ll watch out for this!
At last – after a few days of tenuous links, I can see one to today’s Great ‘O’ antiphon. Emmanuel, our King and our lawgiver, it is your laws that we break. You are, however, our saviour – the one who came to earth to die for us that we might be dead to sin. For that reason you are our hope. Come and save us. Come and heal us. Come and deliver us from evil. Come, Lord Jesus. Maranatha.