Luke 17:1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!
Luke 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
Luke 17:3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,
Luke 17:4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
It’s neat how Jesus wraps these teachings together. It’s like temptations to sin, friendship with others, rebuking, forgiving, and faith are all wrapped up into one way of life.
Jesus knew exactly what He was doing, didn’t He?
The fact is, I need people around me living constant good examples to watch so that I can think and consider what is good. As I see other people live their lives and talk about it, I gain wisdom on how to resist temptations and sin myself.
When I sin, I can go to God and thank Him for the forgiveness that He bought for me on the cross. I can wrap my head around that theologically but still walk around feeling guilty and ashamed. When I confess my sin to another person and they give me that look — not the shocked look I imagined but the compassionate look of a fellow human needing a savior — and they tell me my sins are forgiven, it’s different. It’s different than if I ‘apologized’ to God on the drive home.
The best way to learn to forgive others is to realize how much you yourself have been forgiven. Just imagine the horror and despair if you went to God for the umpteenth time in a day and asked forgiveness and He said “Nope. I’m done here Sullivan. I abandon you.” [that was hard to type!]
When we realize how much forgiveness God has, is, and will give us, we become more capable of forgiving others.
When I was learning to juggle, I would count how many throw-and-catch cycles I could do before I dropped the bean bags. I would get so excited when I hit 9 or 10 throws that I’d mess up and drop everything. My teacher (my cousin) said not to count past 7. If you can do it 7 times in a row, just keep going. You don’t have to count any more. At that point, you can juggle.
There were Rabbis that taught that you only had to forgive some one 7 times a day. That’s where Jesus got this example. Jesus shows us God’s character. He is so good — so good at forgiving us — that He doesn’t count the times.
Resisting temptation, not bringing temptation to others, forgiving sin, repenting. It’s what we do the best together as we love one another in the Church. We can do it!
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