THE SERVANT GENERAL
WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
gospel: Matthew 6:7-15
In the gospel today, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray.
This is what we know to be the Lord’s Prayer, the only
actual prayer Jesus is recorded to have taught. It basically
has two partsthe first relates to God and who He is (our
Father who is holy, whose Kingdom will come, and whose will
is done) and the second is about what we need and are to ask
for (feed us, forgive us, test us not, deliver us).
we look to God and we look to ourselves. With the latter,
it is about our most basic needs. But there is one part of
the prayer that relates not to what we ask God to do for us,
but to what we ourselves need to do. This is the part on forgiveness,
where we say, “as we forgive our debtors” (v.12b).
teaching the actual prayer, Jesus makes a commentary or exposition
on just this aspect of forgiveness. Perhaps Jesus could have
explained the more problematic aspects of the prayer, like
the part about not subjecting us to the final test, or as
the original translations had it, not leading us to temptation.
Pope Francis himself would like to change the wording of this
part, since God supposedly does not lead people to temptation.
Jesus just focuses on the aspect of forgiveness. He stresses
the point of the prayer. “If you forgive others their
transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But
if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive
your transgressions.” (v.14-15). Whoa. We are not just
to repent of our sins and ask God for forgiveness, but we
must forgive others. Otherwise, we are not forgiven.
there are challenging aspects to forgiving those who trespass
many times do we forgive, as Peter asked? Seventy-seven or
seven times seventy times (a whooping 490 times!). That is,
without limit. In such a case, the other person would seem
to be a repeat offender, one who probably is not even sorry
for what wrong he has done. We are to forgive anyway.
if the offender does not ask us for forgiveness? Forgive anyway.
It is a unilateral and unconditional action.
will justice be done? Not by us. Vengeance is mine, says the
is the wisdom in such forgiveness?
God makes His forgiving us conditional on our forgiving others.
That is God’s wisdom, unreasonable as it might seem
to us, and we just need to do as God wills.
it is for our benefit. We rid ourselves of the poison
that comes from anger or resentment. We do not nurse something
within us that ultimately affects our emotional and even physical
well-being. We rid ourselves of what can rob us of our joy.
We are able to move forward without being weighed down by
painful occurrences in broken relationships.
we prepare the way to eventual restoration of the broken relationship.
We take the first step.
we grow in Christian charity and mercy. This is especially
so when the other party seems not repentant or is not asking
us for forgiveness. We manifest unilateral, unconditional,
self-sacrificial love. We grow in virtue. We become like Christ,
who on the cross forgave those who did him wrong.
consider the parable of the unforgiving servant. The king
forgave him his huge debt, but he in turn could not forgive
the much smaller debt to him of a fellow servant. We must
focus not on the wrong someone has done to us, but on the
wrongs we continue to do against God. Compared to our sins
against a loving Father, the sins of others against us are
minuscule. If God Himself can forgive us, why can we not forgive
big obstacle for us at times is not really understanding forgiveness.
What is the truth about forgiveness?
it is not an emotional act, but an act of the will. We may
still feel anger or resentment (these are emotions), but we
can forgive anyway.
it does not necessarily mean no justice will be done. We can
forgive, but this is not incompatible with justice being done.
For example, if someone does us wrong and breaks the law in
the process, we can forgive, but we can still press charges.
It will be for the good of the offender and of society in
it does not necessarily mean forgetting. To forgive is an
act of the will, while to remember is something that just
happens. It is not something we can will away. It just comes,
just like a temptation over which we have no control, especially
if a bad memory is triggered.
forgive is indeed divine. Jesus taught us and showed us how.
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