For me, the last few months have been wonderful enjoying a prolonged English summer of cricket. I’m a mad cricket supporter and so have spent many nights in front of the TV until the wee hours of the morning watching the Cricket World Cup and now the Ashes.
For anyone who’s been a fan of Australian cricket it’s been a tumultuous 18 months since the now infamous ‘ball tampering scandal’ in South Africa in March last year. At that time, we saw the then captain and vice-captain of Australia banned from cricket and disgraced because of their acts. But since then we’ve had a redemption story for those players and for Australian cricket itself.
At the time I reflected on how personally betrayed I felt by the whole saga. As a young kid I, like so many other young boys, dreamed of one day donning the Baggy Green and playing for Australia. So, to see those players so wilfully throw that privilege away because of a “win at all costs” mentality was quite devastating. I was surprised how let down I felt personally in this situation. Of course, for so many young people it was even more difficult to watch because they’d idolised people like Steve Smith and David Warner for so long. For us as adults working with young people, or as parents, it was difficult to explain to them what their heroes had done.
Yet, over the last year we’ve seen a great redemption story and those three banned players working so hard to regain the trust of the public and make amends for their wrongdoings. For me, it’s just wonderful to see Steve Smith back to his usual brilliance scoring back to back centuries in the First Ashes Test.
As a Chaplain reflecting on this saga I can’t help but come back to the teachings of forgiveness. Forgiving someone who’s wronged you is something what we’re taught at a young age to do, yet it can be an incredibly difficult thing in practice. When we feel hurt or let down by somebody often the last thing we want to do is forgive.
We see in the Bible that Jesus’ disciples struggled with the notion of forgiveness just as we do today. In Matthew 18 they ask Jesus how many times they should forgive someone who has done them wrong. Jesus replies that you should forgive someone “not seven times, but seventy-seven”. Effectively, what Jesus is saying is that there are no limits to how many times we should forgive someone who does wrong by us. This is a difficult teaching to put into practice, yet is one that we should always be striving for.
In many of the RE classes of late we’ve been looking at Jesus’ teachings and what it means to rise above wrong doings to do the right thing; how you can be the ‘bigger person’. This is challenging. Yet, if we strive to be a good person this is the kind of challenge that we aim for. Forgiving someone is not always easy, and often it’s not quick, but it’s something we should try for whenever we can.
For me, I’ve forgiven Steve Smith for how he wronged me. All three banned players have owned up to their mistakes and worked to do better. Now what we can hope for is a convincing win in the Ashes Series!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Richard La’Brooy