Forgiveness

02-24-2019From Our PastorFather Prince Raja

The key theme that runs through today's readings is one of love. It is the new commandment that Christ left behind at the last supper, inviting his disciples to love one another just as he loved them. In the first reading David shows how a Christian should respond to the challenge God has given him by not killing the enemy. In the second reading we hear Paul telling the Corinthian community Christ the new Adam is different from the old Adam. He invites his community to grow into the image of the heavenly Father by continuously transforming themselves. Through his committed love he brought new life to people. In the gospel Jesus speaks about loving their enemies and sincerely praying for their persecutors which shows that only a religious motivation could be a root of such a notable behavior. He tells them that the reason for this is the Father in heaven who is caring, loving and merciful. He is kind to those ungrateful and wicked.

Today's gospel reading is a continuation of the teaching that began in last Sunday's gospel. We continue to hear Jesus' Sermon on the Plain. Recall that in Luke's Gospel, this teaching is addressed to Jesus' disciples.

This is in contrast to the parallel found in Matthew's Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus' words are addressed to both the disciples and to the crowds. The word 'love' is explained by the words that follows: 'do good,' 'bless,' and 'pray for.' Is this can be? In other words, this type of love is the highest form of love by which in Greek it is called agape which means a benevolent towards the other person. It means that no matter what that person does to us we will never allow ourselves to desire anything but his highest good.

Forgiveness does not come easily or naturally. Retribution or getting even seems to be the more common response to wrongdoings. One man once said, "I forgive my enemies but I remember their faces." In various cultures, the underlying principle is: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." But as the charismatic leader and advocate of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi once said, "If we live by an 'eye for an eye' kind of justice, the whole world would be blind today!"

As we reflect the word of God today we are reminded of the beautiful Prayer of Generosity by St. Ignatius of Loyola: Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous; Teach me to serve You as I should To give and not to count the cost To fight and not to heed the wounds To toil and not to seek the rest To labor and not to ask to reward Save that of knowing that I do your Most holy will. Amen.

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