Reflection on Mark 11.11-26

Jesus said: ‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive.

Many terrible things happen in this world. Human beings seem to have an infinite capacity to inflict upon each other and upon themselves. We seem to delight inflicting unimaginable and unbearable levels of pain upon those who are weaker than ourselves. We also seem to be able to do these terrible things even though they are also harming us. As in so many issues, our strength can also be our weakness and the cause of our ultimate downfall.

Since humanity evolved it seems to have had the capacity for warfare. Its need to dominate means that it will fight for what it considers to be its ‘survival’. Even those who offer neither resistance nor threat are persecuted and exploited to the point of destruction. As time has passed we have developed the skills of recording the sounds and the images associated with warfare and we have arrived at a point where the horrors of our inhumanity are no longer matters of hearsay, but rather documented fact. This is not merely a matter of recording the horrific actions of human beings, it is also a vehicle whereby perpetrators can be brought to account … thus fuelling our need for revenge!

In today’s reading Jesus urges us to reflect upon one of the hardest elements of the Christian faith, that of forgiveness. We all like to wrap ourselves in the cosy notion that God forgives us the terrible things we do to one another, but Jesus takes that concept onto a different plane. Jesus urges us to be the ones who do the forgiving.

Jesus says: Whenever you stand praying, forgive. There are two challenges contained within these few words. First, how many of us pray when we are standing? Secondly, how many of us put forgiveness at the head of our prayer agenda?

Too often we centre our prayers around a specific place or time. Today we are being challenged to hold ourselves in a constant state of prayer, engaging in an ongoing conversation with the God who is with us every moment of every day. When we are confronted with the challenges of daily life we often resort to our own flawed strategies for survival. Instead, we are called to stop wherever we are standing, and pray. And, as we do that, we are called to put forgiveness of others, and sometimes self, at the head of those prayers.

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray: and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Today we are being challenged to live out those words in an unconditional and loving way. We are being challenged to step outside our own flawed ways of thinking and to shine with the forgiveness that is rooted in Christ’s covenant with humanity. We are called to stand out because we truly and genuinely forgive in order that the world might see God’s kingdom brought to life in our midst.