By Jim Orcutt, Co-Founder of My Brother's Keeper

These personal reflections on the Monday gospel represent my insight of Christ’s message as viewed through the lens of my life experience. It is my hope that others will be inspired to reflect upon their views as well.
Date: November 12, 2018
November 12, 2018

Gospel LK 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”

And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Reflection:

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”

Jesus’ words about those who “cause little ones to sin,” speak to us in regard to the child abuse that has caused (and continues to cause) serious damage to children, families and “our” church.

It has become increasingly clear that the abuse scandal is a widespread, deep rooted, sinful sickness that has plagued our church for centuries, from seminaries to the hierarchy.

Certainly, the souls of those complicit in these crimes are in jeopardy, be they Bishop, priest, or layperson.
“Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”

It’s almost as if Jesus is reading my mind; the horror of abusing a child seems almost beyond human forgiveness.

Yet, Jesus immediately tells me to, “Be on your guard.”

To be on my guard means to not allow my heart to “turn to stone.”
Jesus calls me to “rebuke” (express sharp disapproval) if the person sins.

But, “if he repents,” I am called to forgive him.

And, if he “wrongs” me multiple times in a day and says he’s sorry each time, I should forgive him each time.

It almost seems impossible, and I suppose from the human perspective it may be. But, with God all things are possible and as Christians, we are called to aspire to be Christ-like.

Jesus went to His death on a cross without anger in His heart toward those who crucified Him. Dying He prayed for their forgiveness: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

Forgiveness is the pathway to peace of heart and mind.

The Apostles certainly recognized the enormity of what Jesus was saying to them. The degree of forgiveness that Jesus was asking for must have seemed impossible.

And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

Truly, when I view my own failings, sinfulness and difficulty in forgiving,
I echo the Apostles in praying to Jesus for an increase in my faith.

The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

In answer, I say; Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” C.S. Lewis



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