Forgiveness: 19th Sunday after Trinity

For two years I used to commute on a train for my Masters degree at Madras Christian College, while being an associate pastor of a parish in Chennai (Madras). The daily commute by train was from Parry’s Corner to Tambaram. Invariably every day I would run into a blind man who would be evangelizing in the train. He had no tracts nor visibility for that matter. He just preached God’s word from memory. Whenever I hear the following passage of Isaiah 40:6-8, it reminds me of his conviction in the mercy of our Lord which He savored. In today’s context, we know that we are comfortable with accepting the handicap of blindness as part of life and have come up with several coping mechanisms. And yet, the fact cannot be denied as to how in the world, one could fathom reality in all its details, having been born blind. It is in this context that this man’s clarion voice rang a bell and upon hearing this passage, he looms large, the conviction with which he proclaimed, regardless if those around him paid attention or not, exactly like the parable of the seeds, some falling on wayside, rocks, thorny bush or good soil.
All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:6-8
In nature’s own analogy, the season of fall is not only reminiscent of the inevitability of the life cycle in the natural order but also synonymous of our own nature. This reality is reminiscent of the inevitability of impermanency of human existence upon this planet earth. All flesh is grass. And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass wither, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. At the same time that we are fallible human beings (fallable human beings) who are in need of God’s loving mercy.
And in the prologue of the Gospel of John, which we refer to as the Last Gospel in the Anglican tradition, as it comes at the end of the Holy Eucharist, we read: The law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. This Jesus offered us grace, God’s richest mercies, so that we would live in a loving relationship.
In the Gospel story of the day we witness to one of the miracles wrought by the Son of God, who came to save us, who came to forgive us, who came to restore the lost relationship through sin, who wanted to change the course of ultimate destiny of mankind, which is only prone to sin. He paid a heavy price for all the sins that we have committed and will commit. We are forgiven, you are forgiven and I am forgiven. If only we could fathom the depth of forgiveness that our savior brought and the gruesome death that our sins cost, sin would be shunned from our life and from the face of the earth. In the Gospel last Sunday, in calling Matthew, Jesus was very clear. “Only those who are sick need doctors; I have come not to call the righteous but the sinners. Our Lord in the parable of the lost sheep was able to leave the 99 in the field and went after the one that was lost. How wonderful it is to know that our sins are forgiven, our shame is removed even if they be as crimson as blood, they will be made white as snow, even they be as far as east from the west, He wipes them all away.
Understanding and embracing divine forgiveness will determine our lifestyle: a lifestyle of grace or sin. Way of the Lord or the way of the world. Today’s epistle invites us to live a life in the Lord, so that when the Lord returns He will still find us faithful. Those who have been forgiven by the Lord need to live accordingly. St. Paul tells the Ephesians and us: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
The life of and in the spirit demands a lot more conformity with a life of grace, which is what holiness is all about. Don’t let your anger lead to sin. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, No corrupt communication, foul word proceed out of your mouth, only words that bless and good for the edification, So do away with bitterness, anger, evil speaking. Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
The Psalmist prays ‘make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart” If only we would remind ourselves that All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
The forgiveness that the son of God has extended to us, needs to be passed on. He prayed on the cross:”Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. That was the prayer of the Son of God. We need to forgive people, even when they know what they do. For the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice. In a spirit of faith and Christian charity we need to take our neighbors to the Lord in prayer. As the Lord rewarded the faith of those who brought the man with palsy, will hear our prayer. When we make intercessions, our prayers will not go unanswered. We are called to be healed, to be forgiven and reciprocate the same to others.
The contemporary Christian song “I’m forgiven” reminds us of the forgiveness that Christ brought.Watch this song combined with scenes from the “Passion of Christ”.

Anglican