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I know that a few of you enjoyed the recent TV programme called ‘Broken’ where Sean Bean plays a Parish Priest in an inner-city Parish of Liverpool.  I say ‘enjoyed’ but it really was a harrowing programme because ‘Broken’ referred to the brokenness of the parishioners, the brokenness of the Church in general and indeed the brokenness of the priest himself.  It was one of those programmes that you know you ‘must watch’ but, at the same time, dreading another harrowing storyline.  Of course, I did actually burst out laughing at one of the final scenes where parishioner after parishioner came to Communion and, instead of saying ‘Amen’ said ‘Amen – you wonderful priest!’  I laughed because I knew that would never happen in inner-city Kilmarnock!  Amongst the most moving parts of the programme were the moments where the priest celebrated Mass because, unlike other programmes that detail the work of priests, it was faithful to the actual liturgy.  In particular the Pentitential Rite at the start of each Mass in the series touched me.  Instead of simply saying the ‘Lord, have mercy’ prayers, the priest told the congregation of a sin that had been troubling him that particular week … He too was broken.  He too was in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness … I wondered if I would be brave enough to tell my sin publicly to my congregation … well, here goes … The sin that has been troubling me in recent times is the way I harbour an upset, perhaps even an anger and don’t let it go …. I sit in these benches and ask for Jesus to help me find calm in the midst of the particular storm of life but sometimes get too worked up about life’s woes …. I tell you this because I was struck this week, as I prayed today’s Gospel, that there is no point in telling you that you must get rid of resentment and anger, there is no point of preaching to you about God’s compassion and mercy, if I am not prepared to grasp this for myself.

 

 

 

And so this Gospel of the forgiving King becomes a real challenge for all of us who harbour grudges and hurts while accepting forgiveness from God.  The wicked servant had learned nothing about mercy by not showing mercy himself.  He had received a great deal (in modern terms, he had been forgiven a debt that would be the size of Neymar’s wage).  Yet he was unwilling to show mercy himself (by contrast the debt owed to him was about a month’s wage for an ordinary worker).  The point of the parable, therefore, is that followers of the Gospel must show mercy - because mercy has been shown to them.  It is not just the quantity of the forgiveness, it is also the quality of the forgiveness that is important here.  Yes, we must forgive always but it’s the reason why we must forgive that is central.  We must forgive BECAUSE GOD HAS FORGIVEN US.  That is why I spoke about my own sin today.  That is why I invite you to acknowledge your own sins today.

 

 

 

Think on God’s mercy today.  See Jesus forgiving time after time in the Gospels.  Imagine yourself there – in front of Jesus.  See Jesus washing the disciple’s feet with a forgiving look to Peter.  See Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery. See Jesus forgiving the Good Thief on the Cross.  Hear Jesus saying to the paralytic man “I can heal you but I can also forgive you your sins and give you new life.”  Time and again we see Jesus looking into a person’ eyes and indeed their heart to renew their lives through his forgiveness.

 

 

 

Jesus comes to you today to invite you to renew your life.  Jesus looks into your eyes.  Jesus looks into your heart.  He wants you to show mercy to others.  The real challenge, though, is that you should know how much Jesus has forgiven YOU.

 

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