Saturday, September 16, 2023

Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!

Forgive seventy-seven times. 

"Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?”

"Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

"That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.

"When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.

"Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.

"At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’

"Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

"When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 

"Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

"But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. 

"Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.

"His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’

"Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18: 21 - 35).

Sunday September 17th 2023 in the 24th Week in Ordinary Time. 

God said to Moses :  I am a God of mercy and compassion.  Be holy as I am holy.

If we receive mercy from God, we must show mercy to others. It is not okay to say that it is difficult to forgive.

Sirach in the first Reading today portrays a divine quid pro quo when it comes to forgiving our neighbor. "Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven." (Sirach 28: 2).

"Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself, yet seek pardon for one’s own sins?" (Sirach 28: 4).

Notice the punchline in Sirach: "A sinner like yourself." 

Jesus says the same in today's Gospel:

"I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.  Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?" (Matthew 18: 32 - 33).

I have struggled with the question of forgiveness. Below is what I learned:

#1 Forgive the offense immediately. Everywhere, always, for everything, for everyone without discrimination.

#2 Pray blessings on the offender morning and evening. Continue to pray for the offender until you are healed of the hurt.

#3 Ask God to grant the grace to everyone you have offended to forgive you and set you free. I practiced #1 and #2 for years before it occurred to me that there are people out there that I have offended.

#4 If you do not read the word of God regularly, you will never understand anything about God's mercy and will find it difficult to forgive.

Our Responsorial Psalm 103 for today is on the mercy of God.

"The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;

and all my being, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

He pardons all your iniquities,

heals all your ills.

He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion."

In September, the Church honors the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows obtain for us  mercies from her Son Jesus. 

For Prayers of Consecration to the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary, Litany, Promises of Mary to those who say the Holy Rosary, etc click the link below:

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