24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Unlimited Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means “to let go,” as when a person does not demand payment for a debt. Jesus used this comparison when he taught his followers to pray: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is in debt to us.” (Luke 11:4; Mathew 6:12-15) Likewise, in his parable of the unmerciful slave, Jesus equated forgiveness with canceling a debt in Mathew 18:23-35.
We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered. The Bible teaches that unselfish love is the basis for true forgiveness, since love “does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Cor 13:4, 5.
Peter asked Jesus how many times should he forgive his brother. Peter thought maybe seven times might be a fair limit. But Jesus said, “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). Of course, Jesus didn’t mean literally 490 times, but rather that the number of times are not to be counted. 70×7 is synonymous with God’s eternal forgiveness. God Does Not Count the Times. This is our Lord’s principle of forgiveness, and we may be certain that he did not bind it only upon Peter, but also upon himself.
We have to forgive offenses. An offense is an act or speech, a conduct that violates a person. Its consequences are: injuries, Feelings: anger, betrayal, insecurity, can generate hatred and thirst for revenge, A keen desire for reparation. There is thus he need for recognition of wrongs. Despite all these, forgiveness begins with a CHOICE. Forgiveness involves the decision, it depends on me. It is my choice. Choosing to forgive is to give up our own self-righteousness. Choosing to forgive is to renounce revenge. Choosing to forgive is willing to offer our grievances to God. Choosing to forgive is to know God in his nature: He is JUST. He does not tolerate any injustice.
Forgiveness is a journey. It is a process that begins with our decision and ends with our healing, our freedom. Revenge imprisons us, it makes us captives. The journey has stages: The offense occurs, we are wounded, We dwell on the event, we make the choice of forgiveness, We recognize our wounds, we express our pain, our feelings (anger), We make a grieving, we forgive, We can consider a reconciliation (if possible), We learn to trust again.
What if I refuse to forgive? Remain tied to past hurts; Frequent feelings of anger or hostility; Chronic depression or emotional pain; Unable to change or move on. What if I choose to forgive? Freedom from resentment and anger; Reduced depression, anxiety, pain; Improved relationships; Psychological well-being _
Forgiveness extends far beyond the personal sphere of life to the social and economic. One cannot proclaim the reign of God and not practice His presence in every area of life. Mahatma Gandhi tells us that the weak can never forgive, forgiveness is an attitude of the strong, FORGIVENESS CANNOT HAVE A LIMIT. Some duties are limited, although we are free to exceed the limit.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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