In the silence of early morning darkness, I sat down to reflect on words of hope, love and peace. Instead, I heard the words of Jesus in Matthew, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!…I tell you on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” (11:20-24) Great, even Jesus is mad this morning. Isn’t there anywhere on heaven or earth where people aren’t angry right now?
The longer I meditated on these words, the more I heard the voice of my most recent interview for the Ordinary Voices podcast. My guest was describing a time in her life where she wanted to develop a more dynamic faith life. She started visiting a priest for confession and incorporating these visits into a regular routine.
After weeks of doing this she discovered there was one particular sin in her past she kept confessing every visit. Eventually, the priest told her, “You’ve been confessing that sin every time you come in. You do understand you were forgiven the first time you confessed it, right? So maybe it isn’t God you need forgiveness from.”
Her story is very similar to the reading in Matthew. My guest and the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida were both suffering from a hardened heart. At issue was their capacity to not accept the power of God. They heard words of freedom and yet, turned away. Can forgiveness be so simple?
It’s not Jesus’ job to convince you are forgiven. Jesus forgives and we believe. Faith is the heart’s response to believe in the power of God to forgive what we cannot forgive ourselves. Sometimes that is harder than we think. Is there anything in your life where you struggle to believe in the forgiveness God has already granted you? What will it take to believe you are forgiven? (Mt 11: 20-24)