Forgive & be forgiven
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!