Revisiting Anew The Old Story of The Chicken and The Swine
(Sermon, Ash Wednesday All-Dormitory Midweek Service, Silliman University Church, 9 March 2011)
Texts: Psalm 32:1; Eph. 1:7; Col. 3:13; I John 1:9
LET US PRAY:
- Hear us, O Lord, that we might hear you.
- Talk to us, that we might be better able to talk to you.
- Keep us that we might be better able to keep you.
- Live in us, that we might always live in you.
Many of you have probably heard of the old story of the chicken and the swine. The chicken was priding itself to the swine that it was the most important animal in the farm.
“The farmer can’t do without me,” says the chicken. “I give him eggs that make his family healthy, and which he can sell to have a regular income. And I do this every day! While, you, good-for-nothing swine, you just lie there in the mud all day and do nothing!”
The swine replies: “But I do give the farmer bacon, which he and his family can also have for breakfast, and which he can also sell. I don’t do it every day, but when I do, I give my whole life with it!”
This story reminds us about how vastly different is the way we forgive and how God forgives. As we enter the season of Lent, the time when we remember our failures to live up to God’s will and wishes for us, and the time when we remember how God sacrificed Jesus Christ in the Cross of Calvary to atone and forgive us of our sins and sinfulness, we may be well to pause for a moment to ponder the manner and depth of how God forgives. Indeed, we ourselves can be capable of forgiving, but not so in the way that God forgives.
Let’s look at ourselves: As we go through life, there have been (and would be) many times that we feel wronged by others. People we trusted can break our trust. People we expected to be kind turn out to be unkind. Friends we hope to be nice, turn out to be cruel. What we expected to be the best in people can turn out to be disappointingly the worst. And those we love can be unloving, and those we love so much can love us much less. And so we need to forgive. To forgive those who deserve to be forgiven even if many times we forgive because not to do so will break us and make us lose our sense of how else we can continue to live and be who we are. Among many of us, we forgive to keep our sanity because failing to forgive wracks our soul and keeps open sores in our relationships. To many of us, forgiveness is a necessary coping mechanism with which we are able to continue on with life in a world full of disappointments and frustrations. We forgive really more for our sakes, than for those we forgive!
And one more thing about how we forgive: we forgive but almost always with conditions being attached. We readily withdraw our forgiveness when certain expectations we associate with our forgiveness are violated or broken.
But not our God: Even if we continue to disappoint our God, our God forgives us completely and unconditionally. Our God redeems us with the very body, blood and life of Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son, who is our God in flesh, and who is the only persona incarnata of God. God forgives not because we deserve to be forgiven, but simply because – in even the most sordid muck and mud that we wallow in life – God loves us so much that He desires that we be forgiven. It is a love so deep, and a desire so vast, that God offers the life of His only Son to forgive even those who are most unforgivable, and most unforgiving.
We forgive in order to continue on with life. But in the case of God, God gave up life – the life of His only Son – in order to continue on forgiving.
Like the chicken, we forgive, as we are able to; forgiveness is a commodity we can afford to dispense. But like the swine in our story who gives up life to give others life, God gives up the body and blood of Jesus Christ His only Son, in order to dispense forgiveness; forgiveness comes with the life of Jesus Christ, who is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.
Tonight, as we enter the period of Lent, let us reflect on how we have been failing God. Let us humbly acknowledge our sins and name them one by one in full and contrite recognition that our forgiveness alone resides in God. And let us celebrate how our full and unconditional forgiveness comes with – and in – the life of our Jesus Christ.