Forgiveness Out of Love

Thursday of 11th Week in Ordinary Time

2 Cor 11: 1-11; Mt 6: 7-15

Dc. Larry Brockman


Forgiveness!  This morning, Jesus puts unmistakable emphasis on Forgiveness.  First he teaches us how to pray:  Keep it simple- say what you mean; and don’t babble.  Give praise and Glory to God; and recognize that God’s will is best for us.  That is followed by the forgiveness part:  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  And finally, “deliver us from evil”.   

But notice that after the prayer, Jesus is very explicit that we will not be forgiven unless we forgive. Wow!  And that is the hard part, isn’t it, at least speaking for myself.  Yes, it is hard for me to forgive people who continually hurt me.  And it seems as if there are some people out there who are determined, even dedicated, to be contrary over and over again.  And no matter how many times I tell myself to forgive them, something will come up again, and yet again.  I saw a movie yesterday that illustrates what I mean.  There was a person who played the violin each night just because he knew it irritated his neighbor.  When the neighbor died; this man stopped playing the violin!  In fact, he became depressed because he had derived such pleasure from tormenting his neighbor,  that he didn’t know what to do with himself when the neighbor was gone.     

I bet that all of you out there have this kind of problem with someone.  As a parent, we hear our kids complain about their brothers and sisters teasing them or hitting them or something;  And nagging parents or spouses or siblings fit this bill; so do many bosses or clients or teachers.  And then there are the politicians!     

But you know, we are often blind to our own weaknesses, and so, it is fair to say that we are all probably a thorn of this kind in someone else’s side too- all of course, except me!  I never do anything to irritate anyone else!    And that brings me to Jesus’ main point- humility.  Forgiveness and humility go hand in hand.  All of us need to forgive everything everybody else does to us no matter how often it is done or how sinister it is, because all of us are sinners and are guilty of the same thing.  When, in all humility, we recognize the fact of our sinfulness, even though we may be blind to the depth and details of that sinfulness, then we can make a true confession and expect to be forgiven by God.  But, that humility demands that we forgive others as we would hope to be forgiven, otherwise,we are not being honest in our own relationship with God.   

In our first reading, Paul demonstrates the kind of forgiveness I have been talking about.  Paul has put himself out for the Corinthians.  And yet, they have challenged his authority; they have listened to others preach behind his back.  And yet Paul forgives them- he writes them and asks for a return to harmony.  At the end of that reading, Paul says something very profound.  He tells us why we must forgive others.  We need to forgive for the same reason that Jesus forgives- out of Love. 

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