Posted by: frburke23 | August 15, 2012

Thought for Thursday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
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 his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.


Human nature is very interesting.  Do we sometimes expect more from others than we expect from ourselves?  Jesus points us this inconsistency.  We want God and others to forgive us of our sins and failings, yet sometimes we struggle in forgiving others who have hurt us.

This is a very important topic because I find that many people struggle with forgiveness and it hold them bound.  So how do we learn to forgive?

1)     Think about your own sins.  I don’t think that many of us wake up in the morning intentionally seeking to hurt others or to offend God.  Because we are weak, we sometimes do the things that we don’t want to do (St. Paul).  I am not excusing sinfulness, but it is a reality in each of our lives.  So when we sin, we want others to forgive us quickly because it was not our intention to hurt them.  We want God to forgive us because we love God and want to live in His grace.

2)    Now with that in mind, think about a person that has hurt you.  Try to imagine yourself in his/her shoes.  Do you think they intentionally tried to hurt you?  If so, then we need to pray for their conversion, for “they know not what they do” (Jesus from the cross).  If not, then we need to acknowledge that they are human too and sometimes make mistakes.  By holding on to a grudge, we don’t hurt the other person; we hurt ourselves.  I believe that physical illness and spiritual dryness can result from holding a grudge.

3)    Look to Jesus for the example.  They beat Him, spat upon Him, mocked Him, and crucified Him.  Yet after all that, He says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34) We may not have that kind of strength and fortitude, but we can ask for the grace to be able to forgive like Jesus forgives.

4)    When we go to confession we trust that the Lord will forgive us.  Jesus says in Scripture, “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than for 99 who have no need of God’s forgiveness.” (Luke 15:7)  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”  (Isaiah 1:18)

The Lord knows our hearts.  He desires to pour out His mercy upon us because He knows our weakness, but He wants to pour out His grace upon us to give us strength and to avoid sin in the future.  May we be agents of God’s love and mercy to others.  This is a way to bring about the Kingdom of heaven here on earth.

Am I an agent of mercy and forgiveness?

Or do I spread gossip, hold grudges and seek revenge?

How have I experienced God’s mercy in my life?

How does it feel when someone I have hurt forgives me?

Have a blessed day.

Fr. Burke

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