March 20, 2009
Tuesday – 3rd Week of Lent
Matthew 18: 21-35 “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?”
My Nanay Conching cleans our house everyday. Just to sweep the wooden floor, apply wax, and husk it manually takes more than an hour. But it is always a joy for us to see the floor shines. But the shining floor won’t last long when her grandchildren come to play at our house. When they leave the house, Nanay will quietly clean the floor again gladly. She said, “They are my grandchildren. I am willing to clean their mess because I love them. And beside, this is my house.”
Our life is like our house. We work hard to keep our life happy. We want peace. Unfortunately, some people intrude in our life and mess it. Ironically, most of the people that hurt us are the people we love or close to us. Can I also say, “It’s okay, I am willing to forgive them and to clean the mess they made in my life because I love them.” Anyway, it’s my life. I am responsible to fix my own life. It’s fatal to expect those who mess my life to fix or clean it. I may end up waiting for something that will not come.
Our gospel for today calls us to render unlimited forgiveness. Peter wants a limit: seven. But Jesus proposes seventy seven times, which means unlimited. Why? It is to our advantage. Jesus knows that limiting the number of times we should forgive limits our chance or opportunity for peace and happiness. He wants us to be happy always via forgiveness.
Forgiveness benefits both party. But the one who forgives benefits more.
When one renders forgiveness, he is not only gifting his enemy forgiveness and peace, but he is also gifting himself with the same token. To forgive is to free oneself from the bondage of anger, hatred, and vengeance. The truth is - the person who forgives is more at peace, freer and happier than the person forgiven.
Yet how come that it’s difficult for us to forgive? To forgive is easier said than done. I cannot totally blame anybody from nursing anger, resentment, and hate. I am sure God knows it is not easy to forgive and forget. The memory of hurt, betrayal and pain lingers in our hearts. But Jesus knows well our human nature (John 2:25). He knows that the only way to free our hearts from anger, hatred, and resentment is by allowing our hearts to remember God’s goodness and forgiveness: “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?” (Matthew 18:32-33).
Generally, the grace of total forgiveness will come to us slowly. Time plays a crucial role in our healing and forgiving. Time is our friend and companion. We need to respect our own pace in forgiving people. God knows our human nature and He respects it. But God will ask us to give 3 (three) initial “down payments” to start the healing process: First, never curse or think evil against them. Second, pray for enlightenment to all parties involved including you. Third, ask for the grace to forgive. These are the seeds of forgiveness. And plant them in your heart, and slowly God will ease your pain, restore your peace and give you happiness. Remember… it’s your life
"A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the full value of time and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain." (Rambler).
- Fr. Willy M. Samson, SJ - Carmelites Convent , March 18, 2009