By Bro. Errol Salcedo, CJM
When was the last time you hated somebody and forgave the person without condition?
In today’s Gospel Jesus invites us to forgive withoutcondition and limit. When Peter came up and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me, is it seven times?” Jesus answered, “Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times.” The emphasis is on unconditional forgiveness.
Going back to the First Reading, the Book of Sirach (Sir27:30-28:7) reminds us to be kind and compassionate to one another because God is always present to His people. “He who revenge will suffer the revenge of the Lord…if he bears resentment against another… and no compassion on others, how can he pray for forgiveness for one’s sins?” (Sir 28:1-3) This is a beautiful reminder of our relationship with God and ourneighbor which is divided into two different commandments,but undivided when it comes to life’s application. Our relationship with others in the family or community would always take effect in our relationship with God and vise-versa. The book teaches us that when we become cruel to other people,we cannot expect the compassion and mercy from God and other people. On the other hand, when we are compassionate, caring, kind, and forgiving to others, we build a forgiving, peaceful, and loving environment. This universal law can also be found in other religious beliefs and traditions (e.g. Golden Rule). Hence,in his letter to the early christian community, the renewed and transformed Peter invited us, “To be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another as God forgave us in Christ.” (1 Pet 1:22) St Paul also teaches us that love and forgiveness emanate when we understand that we don’t merely live forourselves, but we live for Christ and other people. We are not anymore different from one another, but we are now one body in Christ, (see 1 Cor 10:17), the source and foundation of our lifeas Christians. St. John Eudes, our founder also added, “Spiritually, we are united to Jesus by faith and by the grace he gave us in Baptism… as members [of one body], we are animated by the Spirit of Jesus, live of the same life, and perform all our actions with the same dispositions and intentions with which Jesus acted. In other words, we must continue and fulfill the life and consecration which Jesus had on earth.” (The Kingdom of Jesus, 161-162.)
Humanly speaking, forgiveness is not easy especially nowadays we were challenged by individualism and “survival of the fittest attitude”, but we have always the hope that in whatever crisis we are facing right now Christ himself is our guide and shield because he himself won over it.
Therefore, there are points that we can learn from the Readings and Gospel:
1. Forgiveness is a divine act which needs freedom and human decision. As humans we cannot be healed without recognizing the pain, and we can let go of the pain without forgiving the person who hurt us. Forgiveness is our participation to the saving action of God in all creation. Our act of forgiveness is a participation to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection – a way to grow and transcend one’s life towards God.
2. Forgiveness is our participation to God’s perfection. Jesus’ perfection was not seen in power, riches and fame but in perfection of love and forgiveness. Jesus said, “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful,” (Lk. 6:36) and “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5:7)
In this way, we may share to the divine life of Christ, at the same time, we may become the image Jesus to the wounded humanity.