Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"...as we forgive others..."

You've heard the saying before about Irish Alzheimer's? You forget everything, except the grudges.

"So will my heavenly Father do to you,unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

Our reading today from Matthew's Gospel remind us about the nature of forgiveness. And, I think, it really challenges us to be people who model forgiveness at all times. Peter asks Jesus in the positive, "How often must I forgive my brother?" But, I think what Peter is asking is really, "When can I stop forgiving?" And, isn't that how we often treat the issue of forgiveness?

But, Jesus gives the parable of the servant forgiven a great debt by his master who then refuses to forgive the debt of someone else who owes him money. Jesus says in this case, "It cannot be so if you want to be my follower." I often remind people in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we not only approach Jesus in this great sacrament of mercy to be forgiven, but to learn. Jesus models for us how we are to be. As we are unworthy of His forgiveness, and He grants it to us just the same; so too must we forgive others, even if they are unworthy of our forgiveness.

And, isn't that what it all comes down to? How often do we think in our hearts, "I won't forgive so-and-so until I feel that they are truly repentant; until they say they are sorry; until they pay me back what they owe me, etc." But, I encourage you to scan Scripture and find where God says "Forgive others - when you're good and ready."

For some reason, like the Irish Alzheimers, we like to hold on to our grudges. But, the only one that harms is ourselves. Failing to forgive binds us with anger, resentment, confusion, hatred, broken relationship and so much more. The great and liberating word of God is this: It is so much easier to forgive! Holding on to our hurts takes a whole lot of work. Enter the freedom God offers you.

You know, every time we pray the Our Father, we enter into a Forgivness Contract with God: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Have we ever really stopped to think what that means? It means, when it comes time for us to be forgiven by God, He is going to look to us, look at how we have forgiven, or failed to forgive others, and then judge us by the very same standard. So, if we forgive freely, easily, quickly - so too, will God forgive us the same way. Or, as Jesus said in the parable, "So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

And so, let us forgive one another, and enter into the incredible FREEDOM God desires for us.

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