A Word #162| 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time| September 10, 2017

Sep 11, 2017

Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone."

You can often catch parents of young children instructing their children to apologize and say "I am sorry" when they do something wrong. It is a valuable lesson for children that often gets harder to practice as they get older. Apologizing or asking for forgiveness is not something we just learn as children and forget when we are adults, but something that all ages ought to practice. Although it is never easy to ask for forgiveness and let alone give it, forgiveness is necessary in every circle of human society, especially in the Church.

Often I have been confronted with questions in and out of the confessional by someone who tells me that they cannot forgive such and such a person for what they have done to them for example: spouse who has been cheated on, a victim of some type of abuse, or even one who has been wrongly judged or criticized by others. These can be painful events in any one's lives and may take years to heal. Yet the first step towards true healing is forgiveness. To forgive another is not simply an apology that says that the offense never happened rather, forgiveness frees us from the oppression of the hurt or wrong committed. Forgiveness is an act of will that liberates us from being enslaved by the offense and it is that freedom that initiates the process of healing. It enables us to be whole again.

In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the necessity of forgiveness. We may want to say that another trait of a Christian is that he or she is one who can forgive unconditionally. Like Jesus, a Christian is able to forgive regardless of the quantity or quality of the sin committed against him or her. It doesn't do anyone any good if we cannot forgive or settle our issues. Look back at world history or even current events and you can easily recognize that many of the wars, persecutions, and injustices have started because no one was willing to ask for forgiveness. An unwillingness to forgive can quickly turn into resentment that ultimately will become hatred which as we can see turns into something destructive and tragic. True forgiveness is always the path to a real and authentic peace. Thus it can be said that the ability to forgive is human and one who cannot is inhumane.

The mission of Jesus Christ was forgiveness and those of us who bear His Name must continue this mission in what we say and what we do. A Christian, a member of this Una Familia, we call the parish must forgive and be forgiven. This is the work of Jesus and this is our work. Forgiveness is what we all need and I encourage each of us to not only offer forgiveness but to seek and ask for forgiveness. Why not go to confession if it has been over a month or longer since your last confession? If there is a relationship that needs healing be the first to forgive. If you hold on to guilt and shame, extend that forgiveness to yourself as you should do to others. If we just practice forgiveness in whatever direction is needed imagine what kind of world we would have- to get there we must start here.

Yours in Christ,

 

Fr. John