Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Often Must I Forgive?

As Jesus finishes detailing the process of Discipleship, Peter asks the  pointed question about forgiving and forgiveness.  Certainly, thinks Peter, there must be a limit.  Perhaps seven times?  Jesus' answer of seventy seven times is not given as a mathematical formula but to drive home the point that the act of forgiveness knows no limits.  We forgive as often as we need to.

This is easy for the small hurts and offenses that we endure throughout our days.  We might cringe a bit, but it's really not so bad.  But all of us have some sort of major wounds where we may have suffered deep hurt and humiliation.  Of course we sit here today on the tenth anniversary of 9/11; and continue to feel he pains of that destructive act.  How do we go about offering forgiveness for these terrible acts of evil and sinfulness?

To even begin to gain a perspective of healing we must go to the cross.  This sign and symbol of our salvation is God's unconditional 'Yes' for the whole human family.  When we hear the description of men and women wandering away from God, we do not mean using profanity, or engaging in some sort of bitterness.  Sins against the covenant of God are Sins concerning matters of justice, human dignity, charity and compassion.  It is for these Sins which bring destruction into God's household that God offers his Son on the cross.

"God so loved the World," St. John tells us that he offered his Son for our salvation.  The effects of the Paschal Mystery we celebrate continue to effect us even today.  This is where the healing begins.  As Sirach points out today, anger and rage are hateful things.  These destroy men and women.  We are not just talking about spiritual destruction either.  Anger, vengeance, rage, and hate, all have psychological, cultural, and social consequences too.  Holding on to these elements only continues to foster more brokenness, and hobbles what should be a life full of God's life and goodness.

When we can begin to understand this reality then we can begin to forgive and seek reconciliation.  We leave our hurts and pains with God.  We accept the understanding that we are loved by God, and have an obligation to share what we have received in justice and love.  The cross of Jesus Christ challenges us to a higher way of being and perceiving life around us.  Failure to forgive is basically failing to love as Christ has taught us.

Today we learn that Christ less concerned about a mathematical formula, and more concerned about bestowing the grace of the mystery of faith upon all peoples.  Christ, has die, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.  We can all gather around this proclamation.  In doing so we must throw off the restraints of hatred and violence, and learn to do good.

1 comment:

  1. "The cross of Jesus Christ challenges us to a higher way of being and perceiving life around us" nicely written, very simple yet complex all at the same time because it takes us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to be part of the solution.