LENTEN DEVOTION for Wednesday, March 21



Gracious God, let me know you today, that I may be forgiving.



A brother asked Abba Poemen, 'If someone is involved in sin and is converted, will God forgive that person?" The old man said to him, "Will not God, who has commanded people to act thus, do as much and even more? For God commanded Peter to forgive till seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:22)

God said to Jeremiah: "No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:34)


When I am being petty, when I am holding grudges or withholding forgiveness, I try to remember saints who have accomplished feats of forgiveness. And on the top of that list are the relatives of the nine victims killed in an AME church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. 

As they faced the killer of their loved ones at his first court appearance, they said those words so hard to say. Without waiting for an apology, without asking for an expression of remorse, they proclaimed forgiveness. "I forgive you," said Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, one of the nine victims. "You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never, ever hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul."

Collier's words, I believe, are a fulfilment of God's promise given to the prophet Jeremiah. In the passage we heard this morning, we hear of a God who is willing to break "the vicious cycle of sin and punishment," as Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann states.

"I will forgive their iniquity," says the Lord, "and remember their sin no more." There is no conditional clause here, no if/then statement, no "if they repent, then I will forgive." God will forgive and forget freely and willingly. Indeed, God does. God does so without making us earn it. God does so without heaping guilt upon our shoulders. God does so even before we finish our penitent prayers.

Sometimes God calls us to change our lives and sometimes God changes our lives with grace. And this gratuitous love of God ought to make us more gracious. It ought to make us spontaneously say "I forgive you" until we believe it and see it.


God, you forgive freely and willingly. Help me do the same.


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