Christian Aid :
Forgiving, for-giving and forgiveness
The month of May contains Christian Aid Week (14th-21st) and focusses our attention (if indeed we need reminding!) on those who are, to use a well-worn phrase, ’less fortunate than our selves’. In many ways, the situations in which people find themselves, have nothing to do with ‘fortune’ or ‘fate’ or ‘luck’. It is the result of human actions, bad choices made by the individuals themselves and/or unforeseen outcomes of the practices, policies and procedures of governments or corporations that create much human misery and suffering. Of course, the easiest explanation is to lay the blame at the feet of those who suffer, blame them for their own inadequacies and shortcomings and this leads to either benign indifference- ‘better to leave them alone to sort things out themselves’, or malign neglect – ‘nothing to do with me, they deserve all they get! After all charity begins at home’.
Our response as Christians has to be different, indeed, we cannot ‘do theology’ with our backs turned against the suffering of the world. The question of ‘aid ’ finds its way into the life of our Church and finds expression, not only in prayers and intercessions, but also in our general attitude and disposition to life itself. We are to ‘be a Good neighbour’, indeed to ‘love our neighbour’ and many commentators suggest that it is in the parable of the Good Samaritan that we find an answer to the question ‘who is my neighbour’. Also in St Matthews’ Gospel, Jesus says
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(Chap 25 v 40)
But do we have a ‘duty’ or ‘obligation’ to respond to those who suffer? Are we not ‘called’ to help those who suffer from hunger, ill health, imprisonment and oppression and are ‘in need’ and require our aid? Do we think that because we ‘help’ in whatever way we can, that we are ‘saved’ or blessed? We cannot do any of these things for ourselves, for our own sense of well-being. or for our own satisfaction. We do them, we give, because we love God, we love His son and we love our neighbour – acting not out of duty, obligation or our own sense of worth etc but out of and in love. There is no other reason than we are all God’s children and, in loving one another as Jesus loves us, we ask to be forgiven for our foolish ways- after all would we need Christian Aid if we truly loved our brothers and sisters? We are for-giving and the spirit of forgiveness lies at the heart of Gods’ gift to us -to give and not to count the cost save that of knowing that we do Gods will in the mind of Christ. Amen