12th Sunday After Pentecost

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Matthew 19:16-26

I have been thinking the last few months on the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation. I spent a great deal of time this weekend watching the funeral rites of Senator Edward M Kennedy of Massachusetts. I also spent some time in reflection on the comments that the so called religious people were making during the funeral on Twitter and on the Internet via the various blogs that I read. I thought the funeral was a mixture of Catholic Ritual and State Funeral as it should have been but the liturgy was not what I focused on it was the comments about his personal life and his voting record.

Now I freely admit that around the issues of abortion he had a terrible record and I do not need to go into my feelings on that subject here you can just search around on this blog for my feeling on abortion. There were also comments made about Chappaquiddick, again not going into that here. There are plenty of places one can turn to for commentary on all of that. All I know is that there were only two people that really know what happened and neither of them are talking anymore.

So I turned to the notion of what is the capacity of God to forgive? Is there a sin so unforgivable that even God will not forgive? Scripture tells us that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will do it but that is about it. As an Orthodox Christian and as a priest that heard confessions I have faith that if the person is truly sorry for all that they have done then God will forgive them. It is not my place to judge their sincerity that is for God alone. No one knows what was said in the final days of his life to his priest, and we know one was present, and I hold out hope that perhaps, like all of us, we examined out conscious and asked for forgiveness for all the we have done.

Also as a priest I feel we have the duty to bury the dead. By all accounts Senator Kennedy was a baptized Christian and therefore he should be given the honor of a Christian burial. I do not think there is a caveat in the ritual that says if he was a scoundrel he should not get the rite.

In the end, he wrote a letter to the Pope and asked President Obama to deliver it. No press release was sent out with the contents of the letter nor was one sent out when the reply was received. It was read at the burial service and it moved me to tears. Here was a man facing the end and it sounds to me like he was repentant for all that he had done. He tried his best, and although he fell short, asked for prayers. Read the letter here.

As a Christian I believe in a God who has the capacity to forgive all if we ask and are sincere in our repentance. If I would believe any other way that I would be putting limits on God and we know that God has no limits. A mirror is a very difficult thing to look in sometime and perhaps that is what was going on here with people and their comments. I will pray for all of the haters out there on both sides, and there are many believe me. A measure of a man is not on a single issue but rather a life time of service to humanity. “Well done good and faithful servant” These are the words we all hope to hear.

Edward Kennedy Rest in Peace!
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