Opening Question: Why is it so hard to forgive someone?
First Reading: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
The phone rang. Derek picked up the receiver and said "Hello."
"Hey, Derek, this is James. You've just got to come over here now. My dad let me open one of my birthday gifts early. I got...I got a Hawkins Lightening board."
"You got a what?" Derek's mouth dropped. "Oh, I just got to see this. I'm coming right over."
Derek sped out of his house, turned right at the corner, and spied someone doing kick flips on a skateboard. "Hey, James, how does it handle?"
"Like a dream. You want to try it?"
"Are you sure, James? This is an expensive board"
"Oh, sure Derek. Say, are you coming to my party on Saturday?"
Derek did a kick flip with the board. "Wow, this thing has perfect balance."
"Are you coming to the party?"
"Eh, yeah." Derek stared down at the board.
Two week later, Derek walked in his house after school.
His mother stood inside with a skateboard in her hand. Beyond the scuffs, print stating "Hawkins Lightening" could still be seen. "Where did you get this, Derek?"
Derek stopped. A book he held in his hand dropped to the floor. His face flashed white.
"Well, where did you get it?" his mother said.
"I found it...down the street, Mom."
"A few days ago." Derek stared at the board.
"Derek, this is the board James got for his birthday, isn't it?"
"Well..." Derek swallowed.
"James has been worried sick about his board ever since he realized it was missing. That was a week ago." His mother handed the skateboard to Derek. "Let's go. You have some explaining to do to your friend."
Derek lowered his head and tucked the board under his arm. He felt his mother nudge him out the door.
Derek rang the bell.
The door opened. "Hey, Derek, what's going...on..." James shifted his eyes from Derek to the skateboard.
Derek handed the board to his friend. "I'm...I'm sorry." He looked away from James back to his mother. He saw his mother nod once. Derek turned and walked away.
James breathed out, then closed the door.
People make bad decisions and they have to pay the consequences. They can try to make it up to those they hurt by their decisions. One of the ways they can do right is to say "I'm sorry." It may not make up for all the pain they caused, but it is a big start. It is a necessary start.
"I'm sorry" is sometimes hard to say, but it does begin the healing.
Bridging Question: How hard is it to forgive someone?
Gospel: Luke 7:36-50
Once, a Pharisee asked Jesus to have dinner with him. So, Jesus went to the Pharisee's home and sat down at the table. When a certain woman found out that Jesus dining at the Pharisee's home, she showed up with a bottle of scented oil. The woman was a sinner in the town. She set herself at the feet of Jesus, wet them with her tears, and dried them with her hair. She kissed his feet and poured the scented oil over them.
When the host saw what the woman did, he said to himself, "If Jesus is really a prophet, he would know what kind of woman touched him. She's a sinner!"
"Simon," Jesus said, "I have something to say to you."
"Okay, Teacher, tell me."
"A businessman loaned money to two people. One man borrowed enough money to live on for a year and a half. The other man borrowed only enough money to live on for a month and a half. When neither of the people had enough money to repay the loans, the businessman cancelled both debts. So, which one of the people was more grateful to the businessman?"
"I'm sure it was the one who owned the most money," Simon said.
"That's right." Jesus turned to the woman. "Simon, look at her. When I came into your home, you didn't offer me water to wash up, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn't bother to greet me, but from the time I came in, she hasn't stopped greeting me by kissing my feet. You didn't offer me oil to cool my head, but she poured expensive oil over my feet. So, I tell you that God has forgiven her many sins because she showed a lot of love. The person who doesn't show a lot of love doesn't have that many sins forgiven." Jesus looked at the woman and said, "You're sins have been forgiven."
The other people at the table mumbled. "Who is this that can forgive sins?
Jesus said to the woman, "Go in peace. Your trust in me has saved you."
James opened the door and ran out to the sidewalk. "Wait, Derek," he said.
Derek turned toward his friend, but he looked down to the crack in the cement. He felt his mother over his right shoulder.
James caught up with Derek and breathed out. "Why did you do it? Why did you take my skateboard?"
Derek didn't look up.
"Your friend asked you a question, Derek," Derek's mother said.
"I always wanted a good skateboard," Derek mumbled.
"Isn't the one I bought you good enough?" his mother said.
"Yeah, Mom." Derek shrank more.
James reached out his hand and touched Derek's shoulder. "We can always share."
Derek looked up to his friend. "Really, James?"
"Yeah, besides, I hated you for three days when you got that new video game."
"So, you wanted to play 'Commander's Revenge,' James?" Derek smiled.
"Boy, did I." James smiled back.
Both boys burst out laughing.
Derek's mother smiled, too.
It's hard to say, "I'm sorry." It's also hard to say "I forgive you." We all hurt others and get hurt. But if we don't ask for forgiveness and forgive others, we will never be able to keep friendships or make new ones. Jesus wants us to forgive, just like he wanted the Pharisees to forgive the sinful woman who washed his feet with her tears. It may be hard to do, but it will lead to healing and wholeness. It will lead to stronger friendships and a closer time with the Lord.
Closing question: Who do you need to forgive? Ask Jesus to help you for give them.