Thursday, September 11, 2014

“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”

You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud. - St. Vincent de Paul

Gospel Text: (LK 6:27-38)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

“Do you think it is enough to do good to those who will treat you well, to love those whose love you know will be returned?”

All religions have a golden maxim: «Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you». Jesus, however, is the only one to formulate it positively: «Do to others as you would have others do to you» (Lk 6:31). This golden rule is the basis for all morals. Commenting on this little verse, St. John Chrysostom says: «There is even more, for Jesus did not only say: ‘wish good to others’, but ‘do good to others’»; this is why, the golden maxim proposed by Jesus cannot just remain as wishful thinking, but it must be translated into deeds.

Christian love – generosity, forgiveness, honesty, trust, integrity etc. - is not motivated by obligation nor an expectation of reciprocity. Christian love is allowing God’s generosity, forgiveness, honesty, trust integrity to be manifest through us – it is not something we do, it is what God does in and through us.

More often than not the forgiveness we struggle with is harmful to our fragile egos. Jesus invites us to forgive those who harm us not from a position of moral superiority or self-righteousness, nor because we are fulfilling the Christian obligation to forgive, nor to model passivity but rather from the truth of our human frailty – that we all stand in need of forgiveness and all are given the grace to forgive through God’s magnanimity. We forgive others through being deeply grounded in our faith – knowing that there is more here than I can see or know or judge fairly.

Who knows what transformation might occur, for me or others, if I allow God’s grace to pierce my conflicts, struggles and relationships? What conversion might there be if God’s grace, acting through me, loves and forgives generously with no strings attached?

Today Jesus invites us to receive this grace of forgiveness for ourselves and to extend it to others: “You are not bound to me, you do not “owe” me, you are not in my debt. In addition, do not bind yourself in self hatred or shame. In God’s love you are free.

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