This past week Amber Guyger was sentenced to prison for the shooting death of Botham Jean. By now, many of us have seen the picture of Botham’s younger brother, Brandt, give her a forgiving hug at the sentencing. We find Brandt’s act of grace inspiring. What an amazing act of faith to show the redemptive nature of forgiveness. Deep down we wonder how we would respond if we were forced to face the same experience. Would our faith hold up in the same way?
The reading begins with the apostles asking Jesus, “Increase our faith!” Jesus tells them if they had the faith of a small mustard seed, they could command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea and it would obey. So often we look at faith as having the power to accomplish great things. The reality is that we need faith more for ordinary life. “Increase our faith!” is the plea as we work to be supportive of a family member having a terminal illness. “Increase my faith!” is the plea if facing that terminal illness. “Increase our faith!” is also the prayer as we try to forgive when our ego has been bruised.
Jesus had just warned the apostles about sin that gets in the way of another person’s faith. If another sins against you seven times in one day and repents, and asks for forgiveness each time, forgive them. This is where the apostles ask for more faith. Jesus went on to say that this is simply doing what is expected of us. An act of faith is more than accomplishing dynamic moments to awe others. Faith is doing the hard work of restoring a broken friendship. Faith is moving beyond the bruised ego to accept another person’s repentance. Faith is so much a part of living out relationships. Our relationship with God was so central in Jesus’ teaching, crucifixion and resurrection.
How was Brandt Jean capable of showing such grace in that forgiving hug with Amber Guyger? Faith. Thankfully, few of us are put in situations where faith is challenged like the Jean family. Yet, each day we face situations where forgiveness is needed and broken relationships restored. Restoration and the redemption of relationships is so much a part of following Christ. For each and everyday, “Increase our faith” needs to be our prayer.