We Find Hope in Forgiveness
Love and forgiveness are like hinges holding a door. They reflect a central piece of the Christian way of life on how to relate with others in charity and justice. The first reading from book of Sirach draws our attention to God’s way of dealing with his creatures, thereby giving us an example on how to treat one another. It moves us away from the impulsive desire for retribution and vengeance. To nurture a spirit of hostility toward another is to find God equally unforgiving. He admonishes that wickedness must be repaid in kind because sinful actions have a way of coming back to haunt their perpetrator.
In the parable, Jesus appeals for a similar spirit of mercy and forgiveness among his disciples. He offers a new way to correct wrongdoing and avoid the spirit of retribution. In dealing with human sinfulness, Jesus demands that we imitate God who is love and always forgiving. When Peter asked Jesus how frequent should one forgive, Jesus responds that it should be without limit. In a society that loves revenge and retaliation, it must have been difficult to accept Jesus’ magnanimous response.
You may have experienced how difficult it can be to forgive. Sometimes the depth of pain and hurt can make it even more difficult to extend mercy to those who hurt you. Nevertheless, we know from experience, unless one forgives those who hurt them, you will remain in bondage. Therefore, forgiveness has a rippling effect. It frees a soul and allows freshness of God’s grace to come and heal the wounds. When we forgive those who wronged us, God shows the same when pardon is sought.
Jesus wants us to be like his Father. He proposed to his disciple a new way of life. The parable of the unforgiving servant illustrates the pardon principle and what not to do. “The Christian already the recipient of God’s forgiveness through baptism and countless other moments in life, is in a unique position to offer that same spirit to others.” He teaches that lesson which runs through all the New Testament: one must forgive to be forgiven.
The Lord is asking us not to be afraid to extend this gift to others. It may require heavy lifting; it may require you taking the initiative and making the first step. It is not easy but essential. “Continued hostility runs contrary to the unity of the Christian spirit and makes a mockery of God’s goodness toward us. In the Lord’s prayer we ask for pardon since we are ourselves forgiving. And if we are not? We must deal with consequences of our petition.”
Most of all, forgive yourself of your short comings and place everything in the Lord’s hand. “Blessed are the merciful,” said Jesus, “for they shall obtain mercy” We all have been forgiven a debt beyond all paying: for the sin of man brought about death of God’s own Son; and, if that is so, we must forgive others as God has forgiven us. May the Lord grant you grace to follow in his footsteps, for divine and human forgiveness go hand in hand.
Sincerely Yours In Christ,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike