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(Part 9)


September 17, 2017

Today’s readings:
Wisdom of Ben Sira 27:30-28:7
Psalm 103:1-12
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

Today’s readings are on forgiveness. Besides the great importance of receiving forgiveness for our sins, forgiveness is a major way by which God brings us to greatness, to be as He Himself is. We are called to holiness, and this means being set apart from the values of the world. This is what differentiates saints from sinners.

Why is there so much strife in the world? It is because people, in the way of the world, hold on to their anger. “Wrath and anger, these also are abominations, yet a sinner holds on to them.” (Sir27:30). Jesus warns against anger as it can and does lead to strife and even murder (see Mt 5:21-22). What is the solution? “Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you” (Sir28:2a).

But forgiveness goes beyond just avoiding strife and having good relations with others. It is about our own relationship with God. And it is about our being forgiven by God as well. When you forgive your neighbor, “then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”(Sir28:2b). If we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us. “Does anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself, yet seek pardon for one’s own sins?” (Sir 28:3-4).

If we are not forgiven, then the consequences are dire.In the parable of the unforgiving servant(Mt 18:23-35), Jesus teaches that we will suffer eternal punishment (Mt 18:34). As we do to others, God will do to us. “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” (Mt 18:35). “The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance; indeed he remembers their sins in detail.” (Sir 28:1).

But forgiveness also goes beyond our being forgiven by God, important as that is. As “merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy” (Ps 103:8), our forgiving others is designed to make us like God. God not only “redeems your life from the pit” (Ps 103:4a) but “crowns you with mercy and compassion” (Ps 103:4b). From the lowliness of the pit of our sinful lives to the summit of the crown of mercy. That is being destined for greatness. Such is God’s intent and will for us. And God has already shown us the way. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36).

We must realize who we are, and what God intends for us to become. We are children of God, we are disciples of the Master, we belong to God. “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom 14:7-8). Everything is centered on Christ. Everything is about God. Our life on earth must be spent to become more and more like God, striving for Christian perfection. Forgiveness is a crucial key.

Never forget all this in life. “Remember your last days and set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Remember the commandments and do not be angry with your neighbor; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook faults.” (Sir 28:6-7). Forgiveness is not just about being in right relationships with others, but about God’s commandments and our covenant as Christians and our eternal destination. It is about our relationship with God and being like God. It is about being destined for greatness.

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