People watching the Olympics got to witness a classic tale of good vs. bad. Lilly King is a wholesome teenager who has worked hard and honestly to achieve Olympic success. Her main opponent, Yulia Efimova, is a swimmer with a shady past. Previously banned from competition for doping, she was granted access to these Olympic games despite testing positive once again.
When King beat Efimova in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, the nation celebrated her gold as a victory of honesty over cheating. Lilly King did not shy away from the opportunity to speak against cheating and her opponent.
Then something changed. Lilly’s honesty started looking like condemnation and arrogance. After the medal ceremony, Yulia Efimova broke down uncontrollably in tears. The weight of world judgment too difficult for her to bear. When asked if Efimova’s tears affected her, she explained, “I was just focusing on me and [my teammate].” A little compassion would have been nice to hear.
Now we are learning there is more to Efimova’s story than first presented. Her doping charges are not as clear-cut. In the end, bad does not look as evil and good does not look so pure.
In today’s reading, a king forgives a slave his entire debt. Debt free, the slave does not show his debtors the same level of forgiveness. Word gets back to the king and he throws the slave into jail for lack of compassion.
These two stories remind us forgiveness is a wonderful gift to receive but a difficult thing to grant. We don’t always do the things we should. Yet, despite our failings, God still loves us. It’s not a love we are to horde for ourselves, but one to be shared with others. (Mt. 18: 21-35)