Padre’s Corner

St. Brendan’s Chapel at Stadacona.
Photo: CFB Halifax

Cancelling debts and forgiving others

By Padre Capt Glen Eagleson,
Fleet Chaplain

Debt. I think we all know what it is like to be in debt; a mortgage, credit cards, car payment, etc. I am sure SISIP has some great advice about this, but imagine for a moment what it would be like to wake up tomorrow and have all your debt cancelled, gone, kaput. If you’re like me, your mind is drifting off right now as a smile slowly grows across your face.

Ok, back to reality. This idea of having all your debt cancelled is one way the Bible teaches us about forgiveness. If you google the word “forgive” one of the pages that comes up refers to “cancel a debt”. The story in the Bible relates to two men who were in debt. The first man, we’ll call him Bob, owed the King a huge amount, estimated to be about $250 billion in today’s currency. My mortgage doesn’t look so bad anymore. The King, knowing that there was absolutely no way for Bob to repay the debt, “forgave him the debt”. So, go back to the feeling you had a few minutes ago, imagining your debt cancelled, gone, kaput, then multiply it by 250 billion. That’s how Bob must have felt.

The story goes on to tell us that while Bob was leaving the King, and I’m sure singing the entire way, he runs into the second man, we’ll call him Jim, who owes Bob some money, estimated at about $14,000 in today’s currency. Not a small amount, but in comparison…well. Bob demands payment in full and when Jim can’t pay Bob throws him in prison. Nice, real nice. But, when the King finds out he is furious, we read: “Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.”

So here’s the deal; unforgiveness throws us into our own personal prison and tortures us. Let me explain from experience. It was during a port visit. We were in a beautiful part of the world, it was warm, picturesque, and just an ideal spot before another lengthy time on ship. The problem was that one day I felt that a local had taken advantage of me, had ripped me off, which really ticked me off. The entire time I was walking around this beautiful, warm port I was steaming over what happened, playing it over and over in my mind, getting more upset with every replay. And…I was missing out on all the great stuff around me. I was, without a doubt, in a prison of my own making, being tortured mentally, while the offender was probably not even thinking twice about it.

If as you read this, there is someone you are ticked off at and you cannot forgive them, then I can pretty much guarantee it has a hold on you and is eating you up inside. Forgiving is for your benefit, not for the other person. Maybe you need to talk to someone to help you along the path to forgiveness. We have just come through the Easter season which has forgiveness as its central message. Take advantage of it.