For­give & be for­given

Tempo - - Editorial - Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Tk­ing in the Je­sus’ para­ble of this 24th Sun­day rep­re­sents God who wishes to write off our debt of sin com­pletely. But there is a catch or con­di­tion. That is, if we want God’s for­give­ness, then we must also for­give our enemies.

*** This point was so im­por­tant in the mind of Je­sus that when he taught us to pray, he made it ex­plicit: “For­give us our sins as we for­give those who sin against us” – words we pray over and over in the Mass, but do we re­ally mean them?

*** Ob­vi­ously, it’s not easy to for­give. It goes against our hu­man na­ture. In a love let­ter to end all love let­ters, a young woman wrote: “Dear Ma­ri­etta… Words can­not ex­press my deep re­gret at hav­ing bro­ken our re­la­tion­ship. Please come back. Your ab­sence leaves a void which no one else can fill. Let’s start all over again. Signed: Your ever lov­ing and for­giv­ing Johnny.”

*** A post­script (P.S.) fol­lowed thus: “Con­grat­u­la­tions! I heard you won ₱50 mil­lion in the lotto.”

It’s not too dif­fi­cult to dis­cern the real mo­tive be­hind the sug­ar­coated words of the “for­giv­ing” Johnny. But it could be the start of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

*** One in­dis­pens­able at­ti­tude towards gen­uine for­give­ness is the spirit of RE­LIN­QUISH­MENT: the abil­ity to let go and say, “I am will­ing to for­give, there­fore, I am will­ing to let go and for­get.” The prob­lem is that many of us say we for­give, but we con­tinue to carry the bit­ter­ness and re­sent­ment deep within us. Thus we hear such re­marks like, “I for­give him, but let him watch out. Don’t ever let him show his face to me.” *** There is a com­mon ob­jec­tion to the act of for­give­ness which goes: If you are al­ways for­giv­ing, the cul­prit will abuse your kind­ness. In re­sponse, to for­give does not mean that we let crim­i­nals go free or that we leave so­ci­ety at their mercy. Chris­tian for­give­ness lets jus­tice take its course.

** * The ex­am­ple of Pope John Paul II af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on his life is a clear ex­am­ple. Al­though the gun­man had been for­given, he was lan­guish­ing in jail un­til he fin­ished his prison term.

More­over, for­give­ness does not mean we keep silent when a spouse is un­faith­ful or a child mis­be­haves. For the sake of the re­la­tion­ship, we may have to tell the par­ties con­cerned that a cer­tain con­duct is not right and is hurt­ing us.

** * ASK YOUR­SELF: Do you find it hard to for­give? Think of a per­son whom you’ve hurt or has hurt you and seek to be rec­on­ciled. One im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber, too: If some­one ex­tends a hand of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, don’t turn it down. Some­times it’s harder to ac­cept for­give­ness than to ask for one.

Re­mem­ber the Lord’s warn­ing: “If you do not for­give your brother, your Heav­enly Fa­ther will not for­give you ei­ther” (Matthew 6,15).

** * TOOTH FOR A TOOTH. The ad­vo­cate of non-vi­o­lence Ma­hatma Gandhi once said, “If we live by an ‘eye for an eye’ and a ‘tooth for a tooth’ kind of jus­tice, the whole world would be blind and tooth­less to­day!”

*** GRAVE DIGGER. When a wife gets an­gry at her hus­band, she gets hys­ter­i­cal… and also HIS­TOR­I­CAL

LES­SON: For­give and for­get. Don’t be a grave digger – dig­ging up past sins!

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