Forgive? Why should I? That’s not fair. He/she should know how does it feel to be hurt. We often heard the expression “holding a grudge.” To hold a grudge means to nurture anger, resentments and bitterness. With it, we are trying to accumulate emotional wastes and spending negative energies that eventually cause us some imbalances or diseases. Studies have shown spiritual ramifications to some illnesses. This can be a complex reality, but the readings for this Sunday help us to ponder about this special connection of our faith in God and the impact of forgiveness to healing and wholeness. Salvation in the sense of the Scriptures is the experience of being made whole again.
The prophet Sirach (27:30- 28:7) in the first reading asks: “Should a man nourish anger against his fellows and expect healing from the Lord?” Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his sins?” Healing and forgiveness is a gift from God and we experience it powerfully as his mercy and love. There will be times when forgiveness can be very challenging and the will to forgive seems to be out of our way. With it we are humbled because we know that this goes beyond our human capacity, we need God’s help.
Indeed, we need to enter into the heart of God’s mercy to understand what it really means to forgive, why we should forgive. It is first and foremost God’s unconditional love he would like us to experience in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. We must look straight to the eyes of Jesus, into his heart to know and feel how much we are forgiven and loved. A refusal of this truth means also a rejection of God’s offer of his mercy and forgiveness.
Saint Faustina said, “Humanity will never have peace until it turns to Divine Mercy.” When we allow ourselves to be drawn to the Divine Mercy we would also see how much we need to be forgiven as much as we need to forgive others too. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to forgive ourselves, to allow God to love our broken and wounded self. When true forgiveness happens, consequently peace begins to settle within. The second reading (Romans 14:7-9) reminds us not to separate our lives from its source and always be responsible to God. “None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as his servants. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.”
The parable in the Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35) is Jesus’ explanation to the question of Peter as to the number of times he must forgive. God’s infinite generosity and mercy forgives our faults and failures without limit and conditions if we are truly sorry of our sins and ask for his forgiveness. This brings us to the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as Jesus’ gift to the Church. Hence, Jesus wanted Peter and all of us to realise that from our end we won’t also put limit on how many times we forgive. Otherwise, we will be holding grudges in our hearts and build up weapons ready to explode and eventually hurt ourselves and our relationships with other people. Peace becomes elusive then and anger can overwhelm us and might drive us to sin.
When we pray the Lord’s prayer (“Our Father”), let us be mindful of the words Jesus has taught us. May our hearts assent to the truth of God’s mercy and love he first of all offers us through the forgiveness of our sins so that we can also forgive others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
(Fr Regie, MSP)