Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Let go

In today's Gospel, Our Lord gives us an assurance, and a warning.
“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
-- Matthew 6:14-15

Surely we should forgive others. But what are we to make of the Father's not forgiving us?

If we do not forgive others, then we are clinging to our anger, clenching it in our hearts. In the Greek of today's Gospel, we find that the word for forgiveness is ἄφεσις ("aphesis"), a word derived from ἀφίημι ("aphiemi"), "to send away." This is akin to the idea of letting go, of remitting debts, of releasing.

To experience theosis--to be divinized into creatures capable of enjoying the blindingly bright Presence of God that constitutes Heaven, we must let go of our grudges.

In order for the hot air balloon to rise into the heavens, it must drop its ballast. In order for the prodigal to return home to his Father, he must first repent.

If we are to be free creatures, and not mere automatons, then God cannot "send away" the anger and self-will we cling to unless we let Him. If we will not unclench our fists from around our remembered slights, then God cannot send them away. In order for God to cast away our sins, we must loosen our grip on them, and let them drop from relaxed hands.

We are like the lion in the fable who insists on keeping the thorn in his paw. Instead, we should let go. Give something up for Lent--give up your grudges.

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