Scripture: 1st Reading: Joshua3,7-11,13-17; Resp. Psalm: Ps114,1-6; Gosp. Accl.: Ps119,135; Gospel: Mt18,21-19,1
We pass judgments. We hate. We refuse to forgive. We hold grudges. We plan evil in our hearts against perceived enemies. We strategize on how best to pay back the evil done to us with greater evil such that the one done to us can pale to insignificance. Some of us do great evils to make the best news items. We hold on to hateful thoughts and feelings and seek for opportunities to avenge the wrong done to us.
In all of these, we still pretend to seek the glory of God. We want His face to shine upon us and be merciful unto us. With the words of David in the Psalms, we cry unto Him to have mercy on us in His kindness, to blot out our offences in His compassion, to wash us more and more from our sins and cleanse us from all our sins.
We do all these. We recognize that without God we are gone this next second because if our breath is taken, we become clay and all our plans come to nothing. We ask God to give us what we refuse to concede to our fellow creatures.
Peter today asked our Lord how often he needed to forgive a brother who sinned against him. Our Lord retorted that he should not forgive only seven times but seventy times seven in a single day and the same offending brother! Our Lord then completed His teaching with the parable of the wicked servant who was forgiven so much by his master and who refused to extend the same forgiveness to his fellow servants who begged him insistently for forgiveness and pardon.
The point of our Lord here was clear: extend to others a tiny fraction of what you have gratuitously and unmeritedly received from my merciful Father. Just a tiny fraction. Nothing more than that. The lord of the servant delivered him to the jailers because he had been forgiven a debt that was so great he could not repay in an entire lifetime. Even in the lifetimes of his children and grandchildren! This servant was such a horrible caretaker of the goods of his lord and master.
We are also such terrible caretakers. We have sinned and continue to sin against the mercy and love of such a great God. In the twinkle of an eye, we have sometimes committed several sins: in our thoughts, in our words, in what we use our five senses for, in what we do, and in what we fail to do daily. Yet, immense as our sins are, God forgives us and lets us off the hook.
God will be with us as He was with Joshua in today's first reading. God will exalt us in the eyes of the people, even in the eyes of our enemies and those who seek to harm us. He will raise is to heights we never dreamt of as He did to Joshua. We only need to follow His injunctions. The one for today is: forgive, forgive, forgive. Let us put no barriers to our forgiveness. Let it be our normal mode of living.
When we do not forgive, we live in the bondage of satan, the author of deceit. Let us set ourselves free from satan's clutches today. Please, let us take that bold and courageous step today. We must never think of what people will say. Let us rather think of what God will do for us after this important and liberative move. Let us think of the joy we will give to the angels in heaven as a result of our homecoming. Let us do it once and for all. It shall be well with us.
Let us pray: God our Father, you are merciful and full of compassion. You taught us in the life of your Son what true forgiveness is all about. Your word today invites and challenges us to take that bold step and forgive. Give us the strength of your Holy Spirit. Take out hurtful and hateful feelings from our hearts. Fill us with your peace. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.