Forgiveness is the focus of today’s Sunday readings. While the beautiful text of Sirach and that of the Gospel say it so, the second reading highlights not only the mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation of God but also the importance of we showing God’s mercy to others in order to receive it ourselves.
Overlooking faults, suppression of the revenge instinct, forgiving and forgetting are indeed Christian imperative. The Gospel today uses the example of a king’s forgiving an official who, in turn, refuses to pardon a colleague. Obviously the lesson refers to God and us. And in turn, to us and our friends and neighbours. Who of us can say – if the truth were known – that God has not forgiven us so many times, for so many faults, of so serious a nature simply because we begged him, with hearts filled with contrition and resolve, to receive us back into his mercy? Despite such generosity on God’s part, how many of us are tempted to go right out and adamantly refuse to forgive another?
Each Sunday – daily, in fact, in the Eucharistic Sacrifice – we pray, in the Lord’s Prayer: not simply, “Forgive us our trespasses,” but, rather: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Don’t these words have meaning?
God knows that we are only human: this is why he forgives us so readily. But he also knows that with his help we can forgive others, if we only make the effort to do so. Otherwise he wouldn’t have commanded us to do so. God never commands us to do the impossible.
Forgiveness, finally, should be a daily occurrence. Doesn’t God forgive our weaknesses every day? If this is the case, then, we don’t have to wait till Christmas to act like Christians, especially, to judge others kindly and compassionately, as God judges us.
We know for sure that anger, vengeance, and resentment are terrible evils in the eyes of God. They must be dealt with and put aside, otherwise, we may risk ourselves not to be forgiven at all.
If I harbour anger against another, can I expect healing from the Lord?
If I show no mercy toward another, can I then seek pardon for my own sins from the Lord?
Therefore, dear brethren, let us put aside enmity and forgive our neighbour and thus stay always true to the commandments of God who is love and mercy.