Reflection: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Sir. 27:30-28:9; Rom. 14:7-9; Mt. 18:21-35.
We human beings have sinned against God right at the beginning of creation with Adam and Eve in Paradise. But also right in Paradise after the sin, God said He would redeem mankind through a woman whose seed will crush the serpent’s head. God who created this clay into his image and likeness, also promised to lift him up, revealing His plan for man’s redemption and forgiveness: through a Woman a redeemer shall be born. Side by side with man’s weakness to sin, God puts a plan to forgive him. And when this plan finally came to be fulfilled, it was even more wonderful and beyond man’s imagination, because the promised redeemer was no mere man, but was the very Son of God. Furthermore, the fulfillment even far surpassed this wonder, because the human redeemer underwent the most ignominious suffering and death only to reveal the full power of his divinity by the resurrection from the dead. “God so loved the World that he gave his only Son.” Already at the planning stage in the Old Testament, God forgave the Israelites many times, and showed Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses praying for them after they sinned with the golden calf and the many times they rebelled in the desert. All through the dealings of God with his creature, He showed readiness to forgive, not once, not seven times, but seventy times seven, i.e., every time he repents. 2 Chr. 7:14 says: “If my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.” We know that we make mistakes not once or twice but many times a day; yet have we learnt to say, “I’m sorry”, or “Excuse my mistake,” or “I stand corrected”? Acceptance of error is the first step to repentance, and it must be followed by a resolve to correct it, or change my ways. This is clear in the quote above from 2 Chr. It must be clear for me that God easily forgives me my errors and sins.
Now he asks me to forgive my brother or sister who has offended me. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus makes it a condition for me to be forgiven by the Father: “As we forgive those who sin against us.” In Mt 5:44 Jesus adds: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you;” and in 6:14-15, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Our heavenly Father is a forgiving God, and so he invites us to be forgiving as he is: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). There are some who say, “I forgive, but I cannot forget.” This is rather self-deceiving, because every time you recall, the hurt is revived, and the wound is renewed even intensified. That is why it is better to forgive and forget; when you forget, the hurt also ends and you remain healthy. Furthermore, when you recall and feel hurt again, does the offender think of you and the hurt he caused you? No! You alone get hurt, not the offender! (Nagngingitngit ka pero siya ay kampante.) You are at the losing end. Why should you keep hurting yourself? Being vengeful, with anger and hate, is never healthy. You hurt yourself emotionally and you sin against God. Forgive and forget, and move on to healthy living. That is what Jesus desires of you.