Originally posted by Nemesio
Consider the following passage:
[i][Jesus said:] 'You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, "You shall not kill; and whosoever
kills will be liable to judgment." But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable
to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, "Raqa," will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and
whoever says, "You mbers of these traditions, or by any Christian who reads this forum?
[/i]First, it seems clear from the context here that it is a case where I am not the aggrieved party, but know that another has a valid
grievance against me. That is, it not about unreconciled, or irreconcilable, relationships per se.
Second, just to clear this out of the way aphiemi
(letting go, releasing, setting free—generally translated as “forgiveness” ) does not necessarily entail either reconciliation or reunion of relationship.
Third, I also do not see this as just about seeking forgiveness.
Sometimes people go to someone they believe they have wrongfully harmed, and say something like: “I feel so guilty for what I did; will you please forgive me?” Which addresses neither the wrong done to the other party (except obliquely) or says anything at all about the relationship. It speaks only to the person seeking forgiveness: “I did you wrong; I feel badly; so you make me feel better.”
Not that every act of seeking forgiveness takes this form; just one that I have seen often.
Fourth, although this is just a side-issue, I don’t see Jesus as setting moral doctrine here, but engaging in an ancient practice called “putting a fence around the Torah.” That is, if one refrains from being angry, and refrains from acting on that anger toward the other, one will be less likely to harm or kill the other.
With all that said, if one makes a continual effort to make amends for one’s wrongs, one is likely to be able to make his/her eucharistic offering of thanksgiving and praise without any anxiety over this. As a practical matter, suppose one is in the very act of receiving the host, and suddenly remembers a valid grievance held against them—one that they had forgotten, and therefore had come to the altar in good conscience. I see no reason why one cannot resolve to make the attempt at amends as soon as practicable, and wholeheartedly receive the Eucharist—perhaps with a prayer of gratitude for having remembered.
Also, making direct amends is not always possible or wise. That is why 12-step programs add the caveat concerning cases where one judges that the attempt itself might cause more harm. So-called “truth dumping,” for example, is not always kind.
Taking too literal or legalistic an approach to this reminds me of Luther’s continued anxiety over sins, even minor ones—as a monk, this kept him running to his confessor constantly, in fear that he might die in the next moment condemned.
I think what you’re really getting at here is cases of spiritual hypocrasy...
Background: Lutheran/Anglican (Episcopal)