"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you." (Mt 18:21-35)
Let's face it: others have done us wrong sometimes or another. I have never met anyone who has not been offended by someone. Our natural responses when hurt are to get angry and hold on to that anger, maybe even to allow it to fester to hatred. And guess what happens next? Our anger, hatred, and refusal to forgive keep us from receiving God's mercy.
"But, Deacon Hosea, you don't know what "he/she" did to me." You are right, I don't know. Nor do you know what another "so and so" did to me. But how can I progress in Christianity if I don't let go of the harbor to which my anger is tied? And how can you be a good practicing Christian if you continue to walk around with that ball and chain of rage around your neck? God wants us to run free with love. We cannot be good Catholic Christians and allow ourselves to be tied down by anger.
Anger, the refusal to forgive, will consume us in the same way it consumed that servant who had been forgiven a great debt but was enraged with another servant who owed him a tiny amount of money.
St. Paul said, "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,* so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning." (1 Cor. 1:18).
Preaching the gospel demands forgiveness. Christianity is definitely not easy.
Preaching the gospel demands forgiveness when we think we are justified in our anger.
Preaching the gospel demands what we pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Mt. 6:12-14)
Preaching the gospel is not easy. Following what Jesus asks us to do is tough. When putting our hostility to death, we give life to our love and Jesus' love.
Is there someone whom you or I hate? How about a situation many years ago that has hurt us? Or maybe it is a recent offense gnawing at you or me. Or perhaps you hate yourself.
Maybe you did something terrible many years ago and have now decided you cannot forgive yourself.
The gospel for today is calling us to: "Let go. Let go of the fight stories. Let go of the hatred." Hatred has turned our lives into a prison. If we want to be forgiven, we must forgive "seventy times seven." Our forgiveness must be unlimited.
God wants to forgive us. He wants to forgive our unbelievable debt and free us of the guilt that weighs our spirit down, causing depression. Today, we must stop Satan from tempting us to refuse to forgive our brothers and sisters.
Forgive from your heart so that God can give you a clean heart.
Author: Deacon Hosea Bennett
Church: Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church, Savannah, Ga.
Contact info: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org