Forgiveness is a gift. MATTHEW 18:21–35
By Ottrisha Carter
In today’s gospel, Jesus highlights the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an essential aspect of discipleship with which many struggle. We’ve all had our bad experiences, suffering the pain of betrayal or the experience of hurt.
Forgiving those who have caused us pain may appear to be impossible, but forgiveness is possible, if we open our hearts to God’s healing love.
Jesus tells Peter he should forgive anyone who has hurt him 77 times. In other words, forgiveness has no limits. Can we truly forgive someone who has hurt us, so many times?
Unfortunately, many do not even believe in second chances. The easiest thing to do is close those doors and say, ‘no forgiveness is possible not even cordiality’.
However, Jesus shows what true forgiveness entails by dying for each one of us in our sinful states. From the cross, Jesus cried out to His Heavenly Father seeking forgiveness for us even though we had treated Him in the most inhumane manner.
In the parable of the wicked servant, his master forgave him a great debt, but he refused to forgive his fellow servant a little debt. He was given a second chance to go away freely but he insisted that his fellow servant be sent to jail. Let’s reflect on the mercy that the master showed to his servant.
The wicked servant’s lack of compassion and mercy towards his fellow servant causes him to lose the pardon that he had previously received.
The moral of this parable is that we have a duty to show mercy to others. When we cry out to God for forgiveness, He forgives us. Therefore, it’s important that we learn to forgive others. Pope St John Paul II said, “We all need to be forgiven by others, so we must all be ready to forgive.”
To truly forgive someone does not mean: ‘I forgive you but I think it’s better if we keep our distance from each other’ or ‘I forgive you but I will never forget what you did’.
Forgiveness requires decision-making, effort and love. When we forgive someone genuinely, we are willing to work on repairing the broken relationship. If the other person is not open to restoring the relationship, then the most we can do is to forgive him or her and keep them in our prayers since prayer itself is an act of love.
Forgiveness is a gift that we can give to ourselves and others. We need to be able to forgive ourselves first before we attempt to forgive others. When we’re unable to forgive ourselves and others, this not only affects us, but it also affects our relationships with others. We become bitter, hurt others without even realising and push people away.
Unforgiveness also prevents us from experiencing conversion and transformation. According to Pope Francis, “Forgiveness … is a gift … of the Holy Spirit who showers us with mercy and grace that pours forth unceasingly from the open heart of Christ crucified and risen.”
As we continue to live in this period of crisis in our lives, let’s give God a chance to heal our wounded hearts as we attempt to bless others with the gift of forgiveness.
Jesus reminds us that God will forgive us in the same manner we forgive each other, as He taught His disciples in the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.
The gospel reflections for September are by Ottrisha Carter, a writer and parishioner of St Martin de Porres parish, Coryal.