I don’t know if you noticed, but I suppose you have: the TV-screen is no longer the domain of actors, musicians, politicians and newsreporters. More and more we see ordinary people showing us an act of some sort, or, and that’s even more common nowadays, a glimpse of their own ordinary life. We call it reality TV.
And most of the time it isn’t just a glimpse, is it? They show us a lot, and on a lot of different topics. Houses are being built or renovated; babies are born, wedding dresses bought, army buddies reunited, doggies trained… well, the list is endless.
And then there are the programs where people make up again. You know, there’s been some sort of quarrel or misunderstanding between relatives or friends. They fell out, haven’t seen or even talked to one another for quite some time, and now, with the help of this counselor – pastor – talkshow host, differences are set straight, problems talked over, apologies made and after a tearful reconciliation all is well again… at least, that’s what we’re told to believe. And boy, do we want to believe, because we all know deep in our hearts that forgiving isn’t easy at all.
No wonder Jezus talks about forgiveness in the gospel more than once. And no wonder the disciples in this particular story ask for more faith as soon as Jezus is finished talking. They understand that forgiving and asking to be forgiven yourself indeed isn’t easy.
The fact that something has to be forgiven in the first place, makes us feel uncomfortable: something has gone wrong, faults were made, someone fell short. Maybe you, more likely the other guy. Most likely both of you, of course.
And that bothers us. Somehow we always want things to be perfect and flawless, but the truth is, they hardly ever are. We have a hard time admitting our own faults, and when it comes to somebody else’s faults, we find them very hard to accept.
Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just shrug our shoulders, walk away and never look back again? It would save us a whole lot of trouble. It would save us the embarrassment of having to come to terms with somebody else’s shortcomings. And it would surely save us the humiliation of having to ask for forgiveness ourselves.
But what would become of the world if we would all turn our back on one another and never even bothered to get together again and make amends? The world would be a cold place, crowded with lonely, angry people.
And guess what! That’s not what this world was created for. Jezus didn’t come to save seven billion selfish, solipsistic individuals. That’s not how it’s meant to be.
When Jezus speaks of the reconciliation of mankind, he means the whole of humanity, united, a true community. And how on earth, could that be possible if we ourselves would not be willing to forgive, to reconcile, to set things straight and make that community whole again?