Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend”

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” - Abraham Lincoln

Gospel text (Mt 18,21-35):
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

Today, Matthew's Gospel invites us to ponder over the mystery of forgiveness by proposing a parallel between God's ways and our own human behavior when it comes to forgiving others.

We often don’t deserve wrongs or injustices that come our way. But when they do come, harboring unforgiveness can become a serious barrier to receiving the good in our lives. Surely today’s Gospel shows us this point. When we focus too much on the wrongs of others, we can lose sight of the good that we have received, just like the debtor in the story. Conversely, when we do wrong to another, the wound we have caused may be greater than we realize.

Are you fulfilling your ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18) in your family, church, neighborhood, and workplace? Are you forgiving seventy times seven times? (Mt 18:22) Are you forgiving from your heart? (Mt 18:35) Are you breaking new ground in forgiveness and reconciliation?

"To err is human, to forgive divine." This saying of Alexander Pope expresses the heart of the Gospel. We must forgive, but only God has the power to forgive. Therefore, we are desperately in need of God's grace to forgive.

Look at a crucifix. See the love, pain, blood, and death of Jesus. Look at what Jesus did in our place. "He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by His stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon Him the guilt of us all" (Is 53:5-6).

We love and express love by forgiving others because Jesus first loved us (see 1 Jn 4:19). Accept the grace to forgive by recalling how much you have been loved and forgiven.

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