Sir. 27: 30 – 28: 7, Ps. 103: 1 – 2, 3 – 4, 9 – 10, 11 – 12, Rom. 14: 7 – 9, Mt. 18: 21 – 35
FORGIVENESS CHARTER AND IDEALS
We all have customs of forgiveness which enable us to settle accounts and reconcile with people who hurt, cause harm, disagree or do not share our opinion, and/or organize criminal and evil plans against us. Today’s readings invite us to look at how each one of us and/or our communities deal with ressentiments or hateful feelings, anger and misunderstanding amongst us or our communities. How do we or our communities respond to them? Do we respond with openness of heart, fraternal correction, and mutual love? or with the opposites of numerical limits, aversion or ill-will, retaliation and revenge, or arrogant pride and humiliation?
Christian attitude and praxis points Jesus Christ’s forgiveness charter and ideals as a fundamental principle of God’s compassion and grace to creation and to all humanity! Today’s responsorial psalm highlights and assures us that God always crowns us with His mercy, He does not find fault with us, nor persists His anger forever, He forgives all our sins and heals our ills, He does not treat or repay us according to our faults. In all, His mercy and love conquer all hurts, pains, hatred, revenge, malice, fear, prejudice, and suffering. It is immense and abundant for all people.
The Psalm invites and encourages us to draw out similar lessons from God our Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior such life-giving forgiveness ideals, against our cultural perceptions and beliefs.
When we forgive our fellow brothers and sisters their faults, we get the following benefits in return.
The first reading highlights the following returns: that our sins will be forgiven when we pray; we shall be in possession of mercy, love, understanding, patience and perseverance, against anger, wrath and vengeance, all of which bring destruction and death to our conscience and soul!
The second reading in a similar context proposes forgiveness as a Christian obligation: “we are the Lord’s whether we live or die”, for this reason, we are to live and die for the Lord, and for each other by keeping the commandment of Love, as he, our Lord Jesus, lived it himself to death on the cross. We are to bless and not to curse, nor retaliate or revenge. We are to overcome all evil by doing good (cf. Rom. 12: 14, 17, 21).
The Gospel removes all numerical considerations, the counting of ‘fingers’ or times of hurt caused to us, as in Peter’s question and answer. In Jesus’ forgiveness charter and ideals, there is no limits. Forgiveness is a divine and an infinite command. It is Godly in nature. This may sound ironical in our practical encounters, especially, when we come face to face with difficult people and circumstances, and mostly, when we comprehend the demands of justice and love. But what is required of us in Jesus’ response and the Gospel’s illustration is to maintain the spirit and bonds of peace, that is, being always the peacemakers, having one mind and heart and will motivated by the virtues of prudence, temperance, and charity. This demands maturity of faith, tranquility in spirit and hope for the best of every person and situations we meet in life.
Let us therefore pray for the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation in the world, especially, between waring nations, communities, families, and people. May fraternal correction and mutual love bring pardon and freedom, and a shield for peaceful and tranquil societies. You and I are the initiators and carriers of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness charter and ideals, hope for a better world. Let us spread the spirit wherever we are and reach out. May Jesus’ name be praised forever. AMEN.