From the Vicarage
“Neighbours from Hell”
“Neighbours from Hell” is the title of a popular television programme which reports on disputes between neighbours, some of which have been going on for many years, and all of which are the source of anger and resentment between the parties involved, and the cause of much pain and distress – why is such a programme so popular?
An important theme in the teachings of Jesus is that of forgiveness and mercy. These are basic attitudes that every Christian must put into practice. Apart from the command to love one another there is no greater obligation placed on a Christian. But, in some of the circumstances of everyday living, forgiveness is more often talked about than put into practice. It is difficult to forgive. It is demanding, and it can take a great deal out of us. Within families and among neighbours incidents can get blown up out of all proportion; we can become so embittered by injuries and wrong-doings that we may find it impossible to forgive … by our own strength alone.
Jesus teaches us to put all our human affairs into a proper perspective and to put our trust in him. In the light of eternity and the shortness of our life span, harbouring anger and resentment is pointless. What comes over clearly in the Gospel is that our ability to forgive others is a measure of the depth of our Christianity. The forgiveness that we offer makes it possible for us to receive God’s forgiveness and to pray in a meaningful way “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
In the actual circumstances of daily living we are rarely put to the test of forgiveness in matters that are truly painful or emotionally crippling. But, aware of the loving forgiveness of God and his generous mercy shown to all who turn to him, when those times do occur we must be ready to place the situations we face into God’s hands in trust, for, if we are to be true channels of God’s love, then Jesus’ teaching and example must be the standard by which we measure our lives and shape our own conduct.
look with compassion on our failings,
deliver us from hardness of heart
and grant that we may always be ready to forgive injuries
and heal divisions
in the strength of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With my love and prayers