Sunday, March 14, 2010

"And forgive us our debts (trespasses), as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who trespass against us)"

Matthew 16:25 might speak to this week's phrase of Jesus' pattern prayer. Jesus says "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Jesus was teaching here about the cost of discipleship; but it also says we must give up our rights to our selves. Everyone has rights: rights to protection, to body and soul; rights to our individuality and personality; rights to security; etc. But when our "selves" become the focus of our lives, we lose what God has made, has intended, for us.

Ellsworth Kalas, in this week's reflection on this phrase of the Lord's Prayer writes: "When we hold something against another person, we begin to shut out the face of Christ, and when the image of our Lord is blurred, we no longer have the faith to accept forgiveness." When we allow our perceived "right to ourself" to be the focus; when we hold on to the hurt, the debt, the trespass, that was done by another to our person, even if the other person was indeed "wrong", then there is a barrier between us and God and His forgiveness cannot be received. And that barrier is the focus on myself. Only when the focus is shifted from my rights to Christ, when the rights to myself are surrendered, laid down, then through God's Spirit the trespass, the debt, against us can be forgiven, and God's forgiveness of my debts to Him and to others, is received. The obstruction of self which prevents God's forgiveness from "getting through", is no longer a barrier. By "losing my life", my right to myself, I can find the life God has planned for me. A life free from the burden of guilt arising from my trespasses, given when I let go of the anger, the bitterness, the resentments that build and fester when I hold on to those trespasses to my self.

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