Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Saint Philip Neri says, ”If a man finds it very hard to forgive injuries, let him look at a Crucifix, and think that Christ shed all His Blood for him, and not only forgave His enemies, but even prayed His Heavenly Father to forgive them also. Let him remember that when he says the Pater Noster, every day, instead of asking pardon for his sins, he is calling down vengeance on himself.”
The parable we’ve just read packs a punch that we quickly notice and cannot escape. It can even be distressing because it calls us to do something that is sometimes terribly difficult. But we cannot escape the fact that our Savior is speaking about the need to be forgiving. He speaks about forgiving actions, about the way we should treat others who have wronged us. And as the parable closes, he makes clear that this is an issue of the heart first of all. Forgiveness begins from the inside. It totally blows my mind that Jesus could have known all along that Judas was going to betray Him and yet He treated him as a friend to the end. I can’t imagine myself doing the same. Even after the Last Supper when Jesus took a basin and towel and washed the disciples’ feet, Judas was right there. Saint Cristobal just before his executioners fired, cried “I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serves toward the peace of our divided Mexico.”
The forgiving heart refuses to hide behind questions about the forgiveness process. It also refuses to look for excuses in the behavior of others, as if they don’t need to be forgiven—especially if they show no remorse or repentance for their actions. If you have difficulties forgiving, think about Jesus and Judas. Think about the fact that it was also for your sins that He accepted betrayal. He would have washed your feet if you had been there at the Last Supper. After you let that sink in, how can you resist having that same heart of forgiveness? That’s a hard stance to take. Only those who have been washed in God’s forgiveness through Christ can even begin to develop the habit of the forgiving heart. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” The words Paul shared with the church in the verses that follow can serve as instruction when we pray to forgive those who hurt us. Forgiveness is hard, but with God’s Word as our guide, we can learn to forgive even in the deepest places of pain. We can fully release the hurt and move forward with a new found compassion for our offender.
Have you struggled to forgive that person who hurt you? Let’s join together in prayer with these words to our Heavenly Father. May they help us offer the gift of forgiveness, today.
MASS: GREEN/WHITE 2 Cor 5:14-21; Ps 103:1-2.3-4.8-9.11-12 (R.8a); Accl. Ps 119:36a.29b; Mt 5:33-37 B.V.M
1. Thank God for His word today
2. Ask God for pardon for the times you have failed to forgive those who wronged you
3. Ask for the grace to forgive people who hurt you
4. Lord, you know how I have been hurt by others—and how I have hurt others too. Give me forgiving Spirit so that I can forgive just as you have forgiven me in the name of Jesus Amen.
5. Merciful Father, thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Your only Son loved me enough to come to earth and experience the worst pain imaginable so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Your Word says to me “clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:14) Help me demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who hurt me in the name of Jesus
Exercise: Pray the Divine Mercy Rosary to obtain the grace to forgive
Meditation: Colossians 3:13