Forgive as You Wish to Be Forgiven

A Lesson for Forgiveness Sunday

The Gospel:   St. Matthew 6:14-21

Then the Lord said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

A story from St. Silouan the Athonite (d. 1938AD)

“Among the stewards was a certain monk, Father P., who was outstandingly capable, yet somehow always unlucky – his initiatives usually met with no sympathy among the fathers, and his undertakings often ended in failure. One day, after such an enterprise had resulted in disaster, he was subjected to sharp criticism at the stewards’ table. Father Silouan was present with the others but took no part in the ‘prosecution’. Then one of the stewards, Father M., turned to him and said:

‘You are silent, Father Silouan. That means you side with Father P. and don’t care about the interests of the Monastery…You don’t care about the damage he has caused the community.’

Father Silouan said nothing, quickly finished eating and then went up to Father M., who by that time had also left the table, and said to him, ‘Father M. – how many years have you been in the monastery?’

‘Thirty five.’

‘Have you ever heard me criticize anyone?’

‘No, never.’

‘Then why do you want me to begin on Father P.?’

Disconcerted, Father M. replied shamefaced:

‘Forgive me.’

‘God will forgive you.’

(Archimandrite Sophrony, St. Silouan the Athonite, pg. 61)