Have Mercy

Sunday, September 14

Jane Gardner

Jane Gardner

By Jane Gardner, president of Quorum of High Priests

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

—Matthew 18:21–22 NRSV

What a comforting message: No matter how off track I get, Jesus offers forgiveness. It’s personal and foundational to understanding the extent of God’s mercy and love for me.

But the meaning doesn’t stop there. While we can claim God’s mercy for us, Jesus’ message is much broader. It applies to all of our relationships, especially those within the church. No matter how off track we get with each other, we are to forgive. Wow! Forgive, no matter what?

The phrase “cheap grace” describes a surface approach. It says, “Everything is forgiven—no problem, no worries.” When in reality the hurt and pain are still present; we do not do the real work of forgiving.

Can we be in relation with one another that is genuine and not just superficial? Can we do the hard work of listening and processing with our honest, vulnerable selves? This perspective on the conversation between Peter and Jesus is counter-cultural and uncomfortable.

Listen together to one another, without judgment or predisposition. Do not assume that the answers to matters of conflict have yet been perceived. There is much labor to be done. Reason together in love, and the Spirit of truth will prevail.

—Doctrine and Covenants 162:5c

The next time someone offends or angers me, I’m going to try to go deeper. What is that person’s perspective? What might he or she be feeling? What are my assumptions about the circumstance? Can I protect myself and still be vulnerable and open? Is there a safe place for us to work this through together?

These are difficult questions prompted by the sayings of a Savior who confounded the disciples (and us): God radically forgives and we have to figure out how to authentically show the same mercy to each other.

Prayer for Peace Forgiving God, we feel your grace before we ask. As we forgive one another, we feel your grace growing in our hearts. As we share Christ’s peace, we feel at peace. Thank you.

Spiritual Practice: Healing and Reconciliation Gather a small mound of stones. Meditate on the stones as symbols of differences and destructive acts that continue to separate and wound the human family. Name and anoint each “stone wound” with a drop of water or scented oil. Offer them to God in a prayer for healing and reconciliation.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will walk in another’s shoes to understand that person’s perspective.

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