Yesterday, Jesus instructed his followers to care for a "child." This word in Greek can be translated as child, little one, young one. Many believe Matthew was using a wider definition than a youth when he wrote this Gospel, that he was saying Jesus' instruction was for people young/early in their faith journeys. With this in mind, what follows, Jesus talking about a lost sheep and the effort to find that lost one, offense given by a member of the community and actions involved in bringing them home, and the important words "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them," make far more sense. (Notice the "I am" in the quoted phrase, I am being the Hebrew word for God.)
Today, Peter asks about forgiveness and Jesus says we must live in that state, be generous beyond our understanding in having a compassionate heart that bleeds forgiveness. Yesterday's selection from Matthew, and today's, are of one developing piece. We are to care for those new in the faith, patiently helping them develop, finding them when they are lost and rejoicing at their coming back into the fold, have a forgiving nature, and always remember that God is in the middle of all that we do when we are acting out our faith.
It is so important to step back, and look at the broader picture being given to us in our Gospels. To see the larger pattern of what Jesus is weaving for us is a vital part of our charge as being his Body in the world today. As we walk through this coming week, and approach the close of this church calendar year and enter a new one a week from tomorrow with the beginning of the Season of Advent, taking a step back and seeing the whole, and not just parts of our faith, can help each of us in caring for ourselves and others and appropriating for ourselves a nature of forgiveness.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.