40 WAYS 40 DAYS #5: Reconcile/Forgive


Rembrandt ‘Return of the Prodigal’ 1668

Reconcile/Forgive: Matthew 5:24-25, (also 4:12,10.32,18:15-35)

Matthew 5:24-25

…leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.”

The reality is that as we travel together along the way we are going to rub up against each other and at times we find conflict, as our values don’t always line up. But before we get to forgiveness I am tempted to ask, what is the gift that we are bringing to the altar? What is it that through conflicted relationships both with God and people drives us to still come to the altar of the Lord?

I know there is a whole bunch of Jewish culture and rule here in regards to the altar but it paints a symbolic image of recognizing the gift we bring and that because we need forgiveness doesn’t diminish what we bring in this life.

Whilst training as a chaplain I realized the need to resolve issues with others quickly and respectfully. To be honest I never really understood nor wanted to experience what Matthew describes here but it connects deeply with the desire of God that we experience by being in good relationship with each other on the road…

The threat of not seeking forgiveness or at least attempting reconciliation is quite serious here and Matthew suggests that it could go as far as being incarcerated for not being in ‘right’ relationship with those around you. In our community it would be hard to imagine that if we didn’t forgive or seek reconciliation we would most likely go to prison. Perhaps most of us would be in prison for our inability and unwillingness to forgive. The Hon. John Howard refused to offer reconciliation to indigenous Australian’s during his term as Prime Minister which was a stark contrast to what the Hon. Gough Whitlam offered in that tin shed when land was finally returned as an act of the beginning of reconciliation

“I was profoundly embarrassed by it (the White Australia Policy) and did all I could to change it.” – Gough Whitlam

Forgiveness has the essential element of ‘change’ in it. That is to say that when we see something or become aware of the need for it, there is a call to action. This lent may we not make feeble attempts of forgiveness and reconciliation but lets try to live in good relationship with not only each other but also creation and the world around us. Lets think about the gift we bring to the altar and offer it not only to God but also to those around us so that as we continue on the road we are continually seeking forgiveness and reconciliation that ultimately connects our souls deeply to true peace…


The Whitlams are one of Australia’s favourite bands, whose appeal reaches audiences of all ages and tastes. With lyrics described as having a “charming cynicism” and enhanced by an instinct for poignant melody, they won Best Group at the 1998 ARIA Awards, as well as Song of the Year and Best Independent Release for their 3rd album ‘Eternal Nightcap’.

‘Buy now pay later’ also known as ‘The Charlie Song Cycle’ charts the course of a friendship between two young men. It’s informed by real events, but is not exclusively about one, rather it is inspired by a number of relationships and the pitfalls within each.

A key line that connects with our practice today is

“So where’s the problem you can ask if you keep your head up
But the road is long and you’re falling asleep at the wheel…”

Have a listen today and think about the relationships around you, and perhaps consider where reconciliation and forgiveness is for you…


Luke Bowen


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