I wish you all a bilateral Labor Day (7th Sept), Feast of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8th Sept) and the Most Holy Name of Mary (12th Sept). I prayed for you all specially during these days.
Last Sunday, the liturgy of the word of God reminded us of the importance of reconciliation through fraternal dialogue and mutual love. In this 24th Sunday, it invites us to reflect on forgiveness. It is a very important element of reconciliation. It is the central message of today’s first and gospel readings.
There is a popular saying that to err is human, while to forgive is divine. That is to say, that the one who sins acts humanly. This is because, it is part of our attributes as humans to err or to sin. On the other hand, the one who forgives acts divinely. This is because, to forgive is to participate in a very important attribute and nature of God. That is, His divinity. Because our God is a God of compassion, love and forgiveness.
The first reading taken from the book of Sirach focuses on forgiveness. First, it reminds us that for our prayer to be answered, we must forgive others. Second, it presupposes that we are all sinners, in need of God’s forgiveness. So, for us to be forgiven, first, we must forgive others. Therefore, the book of Sirach urges us: “Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.” This is a call to liberate others, in other to liberate and heal ourselves too.
In the gospel, Christ takes forgiveness to a different and practical level. This unfolds in the dialogue between Peter and Christ. Peter asked a theoretical question: “How many times must I forgive my brother?” Jesus answered him in the most practical way: “seventy-seven times.” Christ’s response, simply reminds us that Christian forgiveness does not have limits. We must forgive all, always and forever.
Hence, to demonstrate this, Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven. The wicked servant was forgiven a great debt, but he could not forgive his neighbor a little debt. He was set free, but he jailed his neighbor. The message of this parable is that we must treat others mercifully. We must forgive, because God forgives us every day. We must not always hold our neighbors to contempt. Rather, we must consider their situations as God considers our situation always.
Jesus tells us to forgive all, and forever. What does it mean to forgive all and forever? First, it does not mean: “I forgive you, but we must go our separate ways,” It means something much deeper. It means to restore unity, to believe that it is possible to walk together towards a common goal. It means to heal a wound, without leaving a scar.
It is important to add that, sometimes, one equally needs to forgive oneself for the faults committed against self. Endless grieving or guilt conscience because of one’s mistakes in life, reduces one’s quality of life. It hinders both spiritual and material progress. So, we must forgive ourselves too, in other to continue living in peace with ourselves.
Finally, he or she who forgives act like Christ. Do I always forgive others? This is a challenge from the readings of today. Or do I forgive some who offend me and not others? How do I deal with the person who harms me or hurts my feelings? So, as we pray today at this Eucharistic celebration: “Forgive us our offences, as we forgive those who offend us,” let us ask God to help us to be true to these words, by living them practically.
Have a Happy and Blessed Sunday!BACK TO LIST