Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial Feast: Saint Jane Frances De Chantal—(1572-+1641), Patron Saint of Forgotten People, In-law Problems, Loss of Parents, & Widows.
Book of Joshua 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17, Psalm 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, & Matthew 18:21-19-1
In today's Gospel narrative, Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times." Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." In other words, without limit. Why? Because Jesus says so, which is a pretty good reason even if I end this reflection right now. Yet, our Lord shows us the reason in the parable of the greatly indebted man who was absolved but then turned around and refused his fellow servant forgiveness.
We must forgive, first because we have been absolved. Christian ethics is characterized as "therefore" principles. God has done this; "therefore," we must do likewise (out of gratitude if for no other reason.) Christian ethics is not based on philosophy or abstract concepts; it is based on God's saving action. We can never afford to lose sight of God's action and His way of reaching out to us.
However, there is a second reason for His limitless forgiveness. God aims to save everyone! As Christians, we explicitly take that mission as our own, and we are empowered to do so by our baptism. God already forgives the person who has offended us. How then can we withhold our forgiveness? If we cannot forgive, how then can we be called Christians? When we forgive, we execute God's prior forgiveness to become present in us. I suspect the offender did not expect us to be forgiving. Perhaps we help the offender experience God's forgiveness in our transformation of the heart.
Question of the Day: How will you participate in the gift of forgiving others?
Prayer: Lord, lead me in a life of forgiveness rather than being resentful or judgmental of others. Amen.