The pastor this morning told us a story that I just have to capture.
Frank gets a bow and arrow for his birthday. He goes outside to practice and practice and gets quite good. As he is walking back to the house he spots one of his grandmother's ducks and without thinking of the consequences aims, shoots .... and kills the duck. THEN he thinks of the consequences. So he goes and hides the dead duck in the woodpile and slinks back home hoping no-one saw him.
Later on Betsy his sister says she is going to the lake to swim. When
grandma says Betsy needs to finish her chore Betsy says "No, Frank said he wants to do that today" and passes by Frank before he can protest quietly saying "Remember the duck!!"
Betsy goes out with her friends the next day. Frank has volunteered again for her chores. And she murmurs "Remember the duck."
After a full 3 days of this Frank tells his grandmother about the
She says, "I saw you kill the duck and hide it. And I forgave you then
because I love you. And I was sad to see how long you let yourself be a
slave to Betsy for it."
My pastor told it better. : )
This was a prelude to his homily about the gospel where Jesus says 3 times "Simon son of John, do you love me?". I don't know how it escaped me for all these years but I finally put together that this is AFTER Peter denied the Lord 3 times. I am sure that Peter didn't miss that connection!!
Jesus let Peter confess it - and he forgave him. It's great. It's catharsis in the fullest.
In fact it goes further than you would have thought at first. Any of us would probably have asked only once and been OK with the answer. But Jesus, the good author, asks 3 times. Hmm. Why?
In this way it reminded me of another story: Eustace doesn't lose his dragon skin in one swoop - it takes several painful peelings. I guess that all of these show us that we need the forgiveness that can come all at once - but there is merit and usefulness and a view of real human nature in that we need to work at rooting out a habit. Real humans live in time. Few things happen so suddenly and so completely all at once. We may say we "fall" in love. But we don't love someone for just an instant. We wake up every day and love them some more. We don't get forgiven once (barring the exception of deathbed conversions) but rather we have the opportunity to ask forgiveness again and again - - - thank goodness!!