The Good News for the day, March 6, 2018
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent (238)
Peter came to Jesus to ask the question: “Sir, if some brother does something wrong to me, how often do I have to forgive him? Maybe seven times?” Jesus answered, “Here is my view: not 7 times but 77 times. That is why the Other World you can compare to a wealthy political figure who decided to settle accounts with those who held his portfolios. When he began the bookkeeping, one man who owed him money was brought before him –the man owed a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his superior ordered him to be so impoverished—along with his wife, his children, and all his property—they would be in debt the rest of their lives—to pay off the debt. In reaction, the employee fell at his feet, said how much he honored the boss, and said, ‘Just be patient with me; I will pay everything back to you.’ Moved with compassion, the boss of that employee let him off—forgave him the loan. When that employee had gone outside, he found one of his coworkers who owed him a much smaller debt. He grabbed his coworker and started choking him, demanding, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’ Falling on his knees, his coworker begged him, ‘Just be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had his colleague put in prison until he would pay back the debt. When the other employees saw what had happened, they were very upset, went to their boss, and reported everything that had happened. The employer called in the first man, and said to him, ‘You are a really “bad guy!” I forgave you your whole debt because you asked me so pitifully. Shouldn’t you have had pity on your coworker, the way I had pity on you?’ Now really furious, his boss handed this man over to a much worse condition—until he would pay back his whole debt. That is the way it will be—how my Father in the Other World will treat you—unless each of you forgives a brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18)
Too often, forgiveness seems like a toggle-switch—you forgive—or are forgiven (click) or not (click). No, forgiveness—whether we are talking about a spouse, a colleague, a stranger, or an enemy—requires an authentic, hard, self-denying decision. It is not ‘forget and forgive’—but you remember—and forgive because you remember! The resurrected Jesus carries the wounds—and forgives still. So do you.
God does not forgive you, if you’re not authentic: accept and acknowledge the hurt’ then act with caring love to courageously deny the instinct to lash back.
AND, finally, you and I don’t know what hurts we inflict—not “knowing what we are doing.” Knowing ourselves and having heart-felt humility make it easier to forgive others.