Judgment and forgiveness
Gospel: John 5:17-30
Jesus said to the Jews, "My Father is still working, and I also am working." For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
"Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
"I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Judgment and forgiveness. How does this work for God? How should it work for us?
As Jesus says, "The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son." And whom does Jesus judge: "for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
Later in the Gospel, after his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples and tells them: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." The judging that the Father gave to Jesus he in turn passes along to his disciples.
What are his disciples to do with this responsibility? Jesus gives them one last example—he forgives Peter for having abandoned him in his hour of need, asking him three times "Do you love me" to overturn Peter's three denials that he even knew Jesus.
Peter has done both evil and good, deserving of both condemnation and forgiveness. It is the forgiveness that Jesus leaves him with in the end, forgiveness that conveys the deepest truth about God.
Do we offer judgment or forgiveness to the people we meet? Everyone deserves judgement, including ourselves; but this is not what God would have us give. Like Jesus, our task is to forgive, so that we can bring the power of God manifested in the resurrection to its fullness in the world. In all honesty we would often rather condemn those who wrong us and the ones we love; but our divine task is to forgive. Will we do what God wills, or what we will?
Who needs to hear God's words of forgiveness from you today?